Conquering Homeless through Employment in Food Services
CHEFS is a 6-month program that includes classroom instruction; hands-on kitchen training in institutional and restaurant settings; job counseling; and placement with coaching and follow-up. Professionals volunteer hundreds of hours to support this outstanding program, imparting a real perspective of the culinary world and providing motivation and support to our clients. We are proud to say that 75% of CHEFS graduates acquire a place to live, and a better life through employment.

Success Story

The week Christina Laygo graduated from the CHEFS training program, she started working at Zynga as a culinary assistant. “They ask me why I’m always smiling, and I say, ‘Because there’s so much to smile about!’ I’m blessed. Twice over, I’m blessed.”

Christina says that her first blessing was CHEFS, which prepared her for the second blessing, the job with Zynga. “CHEFS gave me the skills that I needed to be well-versed in the kitchen: knife skills, familiarity with the equipment, kitchen lingo, and versatility in different cooking styles. Plus, you get to learn from not just one great chef but from many great chefs!” she adds, referring to ECS’s guest chef program in which local executive chefs volunteer to share their expertise with CHEFS students.

A survivor of domestic violence, Christina didn’t know how she would provide for herself or where she would live. During the CHEFS program, she also underwent a biopsy for breast cancer—a terrifying prospect, especially for someone without health insurance. CHEFS helped her to address her fears and come out smiling. “The CHEFS program helped me through those scary times, and now I know I can stand on my own two feet.

“Just like a family, we’re there for each other, helping each other. We’re in class together every day. We eat together; we share together. CHEFS became a place of comfort for me, a blessing. For me, CHEFS is spectacular, definitely a path to success!”

Who is qualified to become a CHEFS student?

Individuals qualify if they live in one of the following:

• On the street
• In a shelter
• In transitional housing
• In a treatment program
• In a supportive housing building
• In a SHEC building
• In a Care-Not-Cash building

What do students learn?

• All standard cooking methods
• Preparation of stocks and sauces
• Ethnic meals
• Vegetarian and vegan meals
• Kitchen equipment and terms
• Teamwork
• Nutrition
• Food safety and sanitation
• Menu planning
• Work readiness skills

Where do CHEFS intern?

1300 on Fillmore
4505 Meats
Air Bed & Breakfast (Airbnb)
Butterfly Restaurant
Custom Burger
Kokkari Estiatorio
Kuleto's Restaurant
Lotta's Bakery
Millennium Restaurant
Raphael House
Salvation Army Senior Meals Program
Cupola Pizzeria
Veteran Academy "Swords to Plowshares"
Zingari Ristorante
Community Awareness & Treatment Services
Bayview Hunter's Point Senior Day Center
Cafe Madeleine
E & O Asian Kitchen
Mission Pie
Scala's Bistro in the Sir Francis Drake Hotel
St. Joseph's Family Center
Hamilton Family Shelter
Zut on Fourth Street (Berkeley)
Ohlhoff Recovery Programs
St. Vincent de Paul Wellness Center
Project Open Hand
City Impact SF
Holy Family Day Home
Chancellor Hotel

Guest Instructors and Friends of the CHEFS Program

Phoebe Sanders Catering Menus
Michael Bauer of the SF Chronicle Food Critic and Guest Judge
Earl Darny of Lotta's Bakery Pastry
Marlene Sorosky Gray Introduction to Taste/Salad
Bob Helstrom of Kuleto's Meat/Restaurant Careers
Yvonne Hines Small Business
Nancy Kux of Bakers Dozen Cake Decorating
David Lawrence of 1300 on Fillmore  
Lisa Rogovin Ferry Building Tour
Michael Schreiber Garnishing Techniques, Knife Skills, Baking
Eric Tucker of Millennium Vegan Demonstration
Rob Zaborny of Hayes Street Grill Fish Preparation Techniques
Sonja Hyams Tasting Class
Jennifer Biesty of Scala's Bistro at the Sir Frances Drake Hotel Plating Techniques
Phillip Woods of RAMS Hireability Opening Day Speaker
Laurie MacKenzie of Mission Pie Cafe Mexican Cuisine
Suhki Singh of Quick-N-Ezee Indian Foods Introduction to Indian Cuisine
Maralyn Tabasky Cake Decorating
Sharon Nahm of E & O Asian Kitchen Appetizers

Where is CHEFS located?

Canon Kip Community House
705 Natoma Street (at 8th)
San Francisco, CA 94103

To learn how you can be involved, contact our CHEFS program staff:

Sally Ray, Employment Specialist: (415) 487-3300 x6115
Phoebe Sanders, Chef, Culinary Training: (415) 487-3300 x6117
Al Leddy, Chef, Food Services: (415) 487-3300 x6112
Michael Sullivan, Chef, Culinary Training: (415) 487-3300 x6113
Onnyx B. Walker, Food Services Manager: (415) 487-3300 x6114
Franz Lao, Administrative Assistant/Database: (415) 487-3300 x6116
Mallory Hasick, ECS Volunteer Manager: (415) 487-3300 x1245

A special thank you to our friends at Comark for supplying each of our students with a digital thermometer.