Fratellis – a popular, local steakhouse, is home to a number of Providence graduates, and on one thing they all agree: A key ingredient of Providence Culinary Training (PCT) is love—love of food, love of family, and love of community.
In addition to his role at the restaurant, Providence graduate Anthony Kellum, 32, opened Irene’s Catering, inspired by his five-year-old son, who was born with renal disease. His son recently received a kidney transplant and is doing well.
“He’s my motivation to keep going,” Kellum said. “If he hasn’t stopped and given up, I shouldn’t give up on anything I’m doing. I wanted to be able to have something for my son when he gets older to fall back on. If I didn’t go to Providence, I wouldn’t be in the mindset I am now. My mindset is to have my own restaurant, to feed people, and make them love food more than what they already do.”
Fratellis General Manager Zach Vlahos, 24, graduated from Providence in 2019, pursuing a career path that may have been preordained by his Greek immigrant grandfather, who bought a restaurant at Smith Reynolds Airport and later opened three other restaurants.
At Providence, Vlahos not only earned his ServSafe® certification and honed his food preparation skills, but he also learned about food insecurity facing many residents in the community and the many ways that Second Harvest Food Bank is making a difference.
“It was such an eye-opening experience,” Vlahos said. Ingredients culinary students learned to prepare were used for Second Harvest’s Community Meals Program. “We’re learning how to do things in the culinary field, and we’re helping out the community by doing that. We cut 500 pounds of onions in a day.”
As part of the program, Providence coordinates a week-long internship placement for each student. In the most recent class, all six grads received job offers upon graduation. The Food Bank’s future home at Whitaker Park will include state-of-the-art kitchen stations for students, a six-week hospitality server program, a three-week barista training program, and more.
“This is the perfect time to go through the program,” said Chef Daryl Pobanz, Director of Culinary Education. “Base pay in the industry has gone up since COVID. It’s a win for the employee—and the employer.”
Providence recently received funding to award stipends to students, who will receive $150 per week to offset costs such as childcare, transportation, and household expenses, as long as they show up to class all days on time.
“I’m always inspired by the resiliency in the students,” Pobanz said. “Many have been told ‘no’ for quite a while--or their whole life. With us, they have a voice, they have another chance, they have an opportunity. We listen to them and amazing things happen.”
Chef Sammy Gianopoulos, Co-Owner & Executive Chef of Crisp Hospitality Group, which owns Fratellis, Three Bulls, and Sammy G Tavern, is a Second Harvest Board Member, and has partnered with Providence since 2018.
“Providence students have a drive and a determination to continue to learn,” he said. “They join the program for a specific reason—to better their lives—with foodservice being the catapult.”
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