Silver Fork is a short-term 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 intensive culinary training coupled with personal and professional development, job readiness and career counseling.

What will participants learn?
The kitchen curriculum includes knife skills, mother sauces, cooking techniques, food safety, understanding how to season and taste food, and tips and strategies for working in professional kitchens. The job readiness curriculum includes soft skills such as cultural competence, conflict resolution, time management, and tips and strategies for seeking employment. The sanitation curriculum offers the opportunity to earn certifications required to enter the hospitality industry.

What is the schedule?
Most weeks classes meet Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. However, schedule will differ dependent on national holidays, availability of guest chefs, fieldtrips, or any other issues. Students will be given a schedule and are expected to be in class every day. Full attendance is required to graduate from the program.

Participants must apply to Silver Fork by attending the application workshops. 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 For more information on the next Silver Fork cohort, please see section 'When is the next Silver Fork class?' towards the bottom of the page.

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
  • Resident of Chicago
  • Low income
  • Member or ally of the LGBTQ community
  • Ready and determined to put in the work necessary to take control of their life and finances

  • FREE
  • Short term (7 week cohorts in 2021)
  • Dedicated to the dignity of all expressions of human identities
  • Background friendly and welcoming to those in reentry
  • Part of Center on Halsted and has prioritized access to Center facilities and resources
  • Understanding of real-life concerns such as housing challenges, recovery issues, and barriers to education and training
  • Multicultural and intergenerational
  • ServSafe Food Handlers Certification
  • ServSafe Allergens’ Certification
  • Beverage and Alcohol Sellers and Servers Education and Training (BASSET) test
  • Professional resume writing assistance
  • Opportunity to interact and engage food industry professionals
  • Assistance in job search upon graduation

Since it started 2011, Silver Fork has graduated approximately 350 culinarians with an employment success rate of 75- 80%. Silver Fork working alumni include culinarians with felony backgrounds, who have faced unstable housing, who did not finish high school, in recovery, who are gender fluid, gender diverse, LGBTQ and people of all ages and races.

When is the next Silver Fork class?

On Tuesday, May 18th, from 10:00-11:00 am, the Silver Fork Program at the Center on Halsted will be hosting a voluntary LIVE virtual orientation for individuals interested in participating in the program. The chefs will be discussing requirements to enter the program, what students can expect during the cohort and the goals of both staff and graduates upon completion of the course. There will also be Q&A session following the presentation and a chance to get to know the chefs. This is a great opportunity to learn additional information about the program prior to the application workshop dates.

Application workshop dates are Wednesday, June 30th and Thursday, July 1st.

If accepted into the program there will be a mandatory in-person classroom orientation on Friday, July 9th and classes will begin on Tuesday, July 13th. Please RSVP at to reserve a spot in the orientation and/or workshop applications.

Sponsored by HUD

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