Future of culinary arts program in jeopardy because of coronavirus – WTSP.com

Funding has been cut to the Culinary Arts Program at Metropolitan Ministries. An upcoming event hopes to fund scholarships to keep program alive.

TAMPA, Fla. — COVID-19 is creating a cut in funding to an important program at Metropolitan Ministries: Its culinary arts program’s future is uncertain.

For seven years, the program has given opportunities to 300 students. The 16-week course to get employed teaches them basics like knife skills, recipes, how to work in a kitchen and safety. 

The program’s founder, Chef Cliff Barsi, says it builds confidence and self-esteem for formerly homeless or at-risk culinary students.

“It’s a great opportunity to help change people’s lives for the positive and make them become self-sufficient and that’s really our goal at metropolitan ministries,” Barsi said.

For Devondre Brown, the chance to be in Metro’s culinary arts program means more than just building his skills in the kitchen; it’s about continuing his father’s legacy.

“Before becoming a student, my dad and I ran a catering company. After he passed away, I knew I needed to earn certification to continue the business in his honor,” Brown said. “This program has done so much for me. It means that I get to continue my dad’s legacy.”

Sterling Peck, a 2020 graduate, hopes to open her own restaurant one day. 

“This program has been a blessing and has made such a positive impact. It’s what I’m working towards. My goal is to own a restaurant, and I’m well on my way with everything I’m learning,” she said.

To keep the program afloat, there is a Tampa Bay Food Fight event coming up on Oct. 15. Twelve local chefs will compete virtually, with the goal to raise $150,000 to fund 100 student scholarships. 

You can find the info on how to register here: https://tampabayfoodfight.org/

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