Graduation Day at Second Helpings

The newly-toqued graduates.

Second Helpings is undergoing a massive kitchen renovation to double the amount of meals it serves daily. The southeastside-located organization, which rescues perishable food and prepares it in healthy meals for multiple agences at no cost, has been long planning this expansion.

"We've spent all year getting ready for it, funding and dreaming big," said Ben Shine, communications director at the program.

Today marks the beginning of the renovation, and was kicked off by a graduation ceremony for the 65th Culinary Training Program class. Hailed as "one of the best classes we've ever had" by lead instructor Sam Brown, the nine graduates each gave a speech to a group of their family, friends, and Second Helpings support team at the ceremony.

The Keynote Address was given by John Benjamin, a managing partner at Outback Steakhouse.

"You've already gone through this chapter in your life. Now let's make it a happy ending," Benjamin said.

After diplomas were awarded and toques were placed on heads, Chef Ralph Comstock, Executive Chef of the Indianapolis Region of the American Culinary Federation, awarded three members of the graduating class a Comstock Award. This award is a tradition involving a soup competition at the end of the course, and awarded to those who prepare one of his 50-year-old soup recipes most faithfully.

Class sous chef Robert Bratcher spoke at the end of the ceremony, commenting on the time and effort that propels Second Helpings. Although he says his long term goal is hard to say right now, he can do anything.

"Now the only limits are in the clouds," said Bratcher.

With the doubled capacity post-renovation, Second Helpings has already isolated a priority. They'll feed over 400 kids every day at the Boys & Girls Club after the six week renovation is completed.

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