Updated: Aug 29, 2019
Labrone Faulks has his chef’s jacket nonchalantly draped over his shoulder as he comes into Providence Kitchen. The space is loud with drills and hammers as workers install kitchen equipment and put up final touches around the restaurant. Labrone watches a worker level a sign before securing it into place.
“This has all come together at the right time,” he says, smiling. He’s got a sense that this is how things ultimately tend to work.
“Some big things had changed in my life. I had been digging holes working construction for years but felt done with that work, and then my relationship changed,” remembers Labrone. “So when a Forsyth Tech brochure arrived in the mail with a Providence Culinary Training graduate on the cover, I thought, okay, maybe it’s the right time now.”
Labrone has always loved to cook. Both his grandmother and his grandfather from different sides of the family were chefs. He taught himself how to cook as a younger man (“Mostly because I knew that women like men who can cook,” he admits), but the realities of life had caught up with him and he had gone into running a janitorial business and, later, construction.
But when that course catalog showed up… he decided it was time to make the leap.
Soul food. Southern food. Barbeque and chicken.
Labrone has always had an instinct for cooking, but at Providence Culinary Training he started to learn the methods and science of cooking. “I always thought I had it in me, but once I got to Providence Culinary Training I knew I had it in me.”
Labrone describes his experience at Providence Culinary Training (PCT), like so many of our students, as a place where a fast family was formed. Close friendships were made and students helped support each other and guide each other through the 13- week program, cheering each other on at the graduation.
Labrone learned something beyond knife skills and cooking terms at PCT: He learned that he could be an impactful leader. “I learned to watch my classmates to see what they could do best in the kitchen, and then help make sure they could use those skills in what we were doing.” He says that PCT’s Chef Janis recognized this in him and encouraged him to guide the other students and facilitate in the kitchen.
After graduation, Labrone went on to join the residency program at Providence Restaurant, Second Harvest’s flagship restaurant. He had learned how to cook, and he had learned how to lead, but, he says, “Until I worked at Providence, I didn’t fully realize how happy food can make me… how happy it can make others.” Labrone discovered that food could be an art.
Working with professional and seasoned chefs in a real restaurant kitchen, Labrone was able to fine-tune his culinary skills. “Growing up as a kid, I think you always want to learn French cooking because that is what was on TV. At Providence, I did learn French cooking, but I learned so many other types as well. Slowly, over time, I was able to make these beautiful dishes, and add something to make it my own.” To Labrone, working at Providence felt like he was in, well, the right place at the right time.
“But these programs are not just about the food you know.” Labrone leans forward and speaks loudly to be heard over the sound of screw guns securing signs to the wall. “It’s about the people.”
People. That’s what brings Labrone to Second Harvest’s latest social venture, Providence Kitchen. Opening in just a few weeks, Labrone will be the new restaurant’s Culinary Lead, heading up a team of PCT graduates in the newest residency opportunity at Providence Kitchen. “I want to make a real team here. I want the people who come into the residency program to have the same opportunities that I had. I had Chef Janis at PCT who told me that I could be a leader. I had Chef Vanessa at Providence Restaurant who sought out and helped me see my greatness during my residency. I want to do the same here at Providence Kitchen.”
“Before Providence, I was just working for a paycheck. Now I am doing something I love and something that feels like it’s good for me and for my community,” he says. “A few years ago, I couldn’t have imagined I would have this opportunity.”
“Everything was placed in front of me at the right time.”
Right time. Right Place.
Grab a friend and join us for breakfast, lunch, or just a cup of coffee! Providence Kitchen is located on the first floor of the BB&T Building in downtown Winston-Salem. Breakfast and lunch served Monday-Friday. Follow us on social media here.