Lovin' Oven Culinary Academy

This extension to our Lovin' Oven program allows us to provide greater in-depth training and practical experience for teens, preparing them for more meaningful jobs in the hospitality industry. We launched LOCA in October 2019 thanks to a generous gift from Chuck and Cathy Williamson.  

The rationale:

  • The tourism industry is one of the largest private employers in Sonoma County, with leisure and hospitality employment comprising 25 percent of the county total (Sonoma County Indicators 2017)
  • Of the 61 businesses in Sonoma Valley that have employed TSS teens in the last 5 years, 54% are directly involved in the hospitality industry, including restaurants, hotels, and event service providers 
  • A recent survey of our graduates indicated that 67% begin their employment experience in culinary and food service
  • We will be able to offer in-depth industry-specific training that will provide opportunities for teens to apply for jobs above the entry level
  • We will be able to supply a highly-qualified and much-needed workforce for local business partners 

food2.jpgCourse description: The Culinary Academy offers a free 30-hour course 6 times each year (5-6 participants in each cohort) that features :

ServSafe food handler classes, knife skills, commercial kitchen/equipment basics, cooking techniques (e.g. sauté, stocks/sauces, braising, roasting, cooking grains/beans, etc.), real-world experience (cooking for the homeless), customer service and front-of-house training (serving, bus person, hostess), practical experience with creating or preparing for an event at TSS. 

After completing this program, teens receive job references, a Culinary Certificate, a $100 stipend and qualify for an interview with our hospitality partners, including Ramekins, the girl & the fig, and caterer Chef Bryan Jones.

chop_the_bacon_tall.jpgDuring the course, 100% of the students passed the online ServSafe exam. Following graduation, students were asked to complete a satisfaction survey. The results were impressive.

  • 100% rated the course as extremely useful, gave kudos to the instructors, and would definitely recommend LOCA to other teens.
  • In the self-assessment on particular skills, all students noted confidence in knife skills, increased knowledge of cooking techniques used in a professional kitchen, a good understanding of food safety standards, knowledge of international cuisines and hospitality standards expected of a front-of-the-house employee, and an ability to execute a pastry recipe independently.
  • All agreed that what they learned in LOCA increased their confidence to apply for a job and work successfully in the food industry.

Comments included:

  • I loved making all different types of cuisine and getting to try new things throughout the course.
  • It was so much fun and I use all my techniques still.
  • I feel super prepared for anything and it gave me a liking for cooking. It was great.
  • I have had growth in my knowledge in the kitchen from the LOCA class. It has taught me everything from knifework to baking to how to cook meat.
  • The food was soooo good!

Our thanks to the 2019/20 supporters of LOCA:

Chuck and Cathy Williamson
Barbara Talbott and John Riley
Chef Bryan Jones
Glen Ellen Star
the girl & the fig
Miranda Lux Foundation
Sonoma County Tourism Bureau
Vadasz Family Foundation
Wells Fargo
Scott Evans Family Foundation
Jack London Yacht Club