Central Virginians with differing abilities are going to work, whipping up gourmet meals in a new catering business at Region Ten Community Service Board. The agency provides services to people dealing with mental health, intellectual disability, and substance abuse.
Paul Baden is finding his recipe for success through kitchen therapy at Region Ten. He's training to become a chef.
"You can get really creative with it," said Baden. "I knew I wanted to get into cooking, and I knew I could be an asset."
Baden is one of six employees in the new catering service program called Decidedly Delicious. It was established by seed money from Region Ten's Power of Ten fundraising efforts.
Region Ten Employment Services Director Russell Ray said, "We work with individuals with disabilities who have barriers to employment."
Decidedly Delicious is serving up meals for Region Ten's facilities and events. Catering manager Bruce Rittenberg started as a volunteer, after retiring from 40 years in the food service industry.
Rittenberg said he joined the program because of "hands-on cooking, which I love to do, and teaching about recipes."
Rittenberg is training employees, including Baden, to become certified in safe food handling. "It gives a leg up to potential employees, and it gives them more of an edge perhaps to be hired," he said.
Decidedly Delicious is hiring a baker and plans to expand business beyond Region Ten this fall to cater out in the community.
"We're very ambitious with what we're trying to do and what we're going to do," Rittenberg said.
Baden has a new ambition to take the skills he learned in the catering kitchen to study culinary arts at Piedmont Virginia Community College.
"It's giving me the experience I need to move on to bigger dreams," said Baden.
A grant from the Dave Matthews Band's Bama Works Fund is allowing Region Ten to buy a food truck to take their catering services on the road. That truck should arrive in the next few weeks.
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