What is Silver Fork?
Silver Fork is a nine-week culinary arts and job readiness program hosted by Center on Halsted. It is ideal for adults who want to enter or re-enter the hospitality industry and experience a fresh outlook on their career potential. Participants experience nine weeks of intensive culinary training coupled with service training, job readiness and career counseling.

What will participants learn?
Under the direction of two chefs, the program includes both culinary and baking instruction, as well as front of house service training and two licensure courses. Participants have the opportunity to earn Chicago Department of Public Health Certified Foodservice Manager and Beverage Alcohol Sellers and Servers Education and Training (BASSET) certifications. The program also includes several days of experiential learning modules including à la carte and catering functions to give participants customer-facing experiences. Field trips to local industry partner organizations and working interviews (stages) are pivotal components of the program. Some examples include field trips to local trade shows, wine-tasting and cheese-making workshops.

Chef instructors, employers and mentor partners deliver job readiness training by helping participants navigate culinary recruitment websites, create professional e-portfolios, schedule interviews and leverage their talents in a multifaceted industry. Participants collaborate with a network of industry experts and mentors that provide working interviews (stages) to build confidence, industry awareness and help participants take the first steps towards a meaningful career.

What is the schedule?
Classes meet weekly Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. However, this schedule is subject to change due to special events, field trips and experiential learning activities.

Participants must apply to Silver Fork by attending orientation. Participants must attend one of the two orientation days listed for the desired cohort. Please call or email questions prior to orientation. To set up an appointment to apply, please contact 773-472-6469 and ask for Silver Fork or

When is the next Silver Fork class?

    COHORT 25, Summer 2018
    • Application Workshop – July 10th or 12th at Center on Halsted's
      John Baran Hall at 11am

How much does Silver Fork cost?
Silver Fork is FREE of charge to ALL participants.

Who can apply?
Anyone who wants to take their life to the next level through sustained, gainful employment in the hospitality industry and is:
  • 18 years or older
  • A resident of the greater Chicagoland area
  • Low income
  • A member of or comfortable with the LGBTQ community
  • Ready and determined to put in the work necessary to take control of one's life and finances

  • FREE
  • It is short term (9 weeks)
  • It provides transportation support
  • It is dedicated to the dignity of all expressions of human identity including gender diverse and gender fluid
  • It is background friendly and welcoming to those in reentry
  • It is part of the Center on Halsted and has prioritized access to Center facilities and resources
  • It is understanding of real-life concerns such as housing challenges, recovery issues, and barriers to education
  • It is multicultural and intergenerational

Since it started 2011, Silver Fork has graduated over 350 participants with an employment success rate of approximately 70%. Silver Fork working alumni include chefs with felony backgrounds, chefs who faced unstable housing, chefs who did not finish high school, chefs in recovery, chefs who are gender fluid, gender diverse, LGBTQ and chefs of all ages and races.

The Silver Fork Chef Instructor/Training Coordinator and Director of Culinary Arts are working chefs with several years of experience in the culinary industry and in the delivery of culinary education. In addition to culinary and job readiness training, the Silver Fork Director of Culinary Arts and Chef Instructor provide non-crisis support. Both staff members have built a developmental network to assist each participant with obtaining and retaining long-term, living wage employment in a thriving hospitality industry.

For more information about the upcoming sessions, please contact 773-472-6469 and ask for Silver Fork or

Sponsored by HUD

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