The veterans who are part of the ABCCM’s culinary training partnership with A-B Tech spend a lot of time in the kitchen at the Veterans Restoration Quarters. That’s where they learn the basics of working in the restaurant industry as they train for careers that pay a living wage.
Getting out of the VRQ kitchen can be just as valuable of an experience, as one group of students recently learned when Chef Eric Cox, ABCCM’s director of food service operations, took the class for a special behind-the-scenes look at one of Asheville’s most popular restaurants.
The group recently visited Buxton Hall Barbeque in the South Slope neighborhood. There, the students observed prep work for side dishes, assisted with the processing of a whole hog, and saw how dessert – chocolate-dipped crackling skins finished with sea salt and cayenne – can be created from an unlikely source.
“It was quite the eye-opening experience and good to see that there is potential for what we’re doing here,” says Brian, a U.S. Army veteran who is a resident of the VRQ and is a member of the advanced class. “It was great to get out there and see what possibilities lay ahead.”
The veterans were back in the kitchen a few weeks later for a morning session with Chef Denny Trantham, a chef who works for US Foods and who formerly worked as a chef at the Grove Park Inn. He brought with him to the VRQ a selection of items from US Foods’ “Scoop” line of innovative products, including Brussels sprout petals, seared tuna and grilled chicken breast, which the class utilized to prepare a delicious lunch.
Chef Trantham was thrilled to work with the veterans on their journey to self-sustainability. Although he was familiar with ABCCM’s culinary program because he had sent product to Chef Cox for use in the courses, Chef Trantham had never had a chance to cook with and lead a class of ABCCM’s veterans.
“For me, I want to share my craft with the men and women that have given their lives. Anything that I can do to assist and help them get into the culinary craft, is my obligation and duty just like they served my country,” he says. “US Foods has been very supportive of this. Anytime I mentioned to them, ‘This is for the veterans,’ they’ve said, ‘Do what you need to do.’”
ABCCM’s culinary program offers veteran residents and clients training that will move them towards career-level, living-wage jobs. How can you help? Sponsor a scholarship! Click here to support this crucial program!