Cincinnati COOKS!


Why does a food bank have a job training program?

One in six of our neighbors in the tristate area are at risk of hunger. Freestore Foodbank not only provides emergency food assistance, but we also wo­rk to help reduce the need. One way to shorten the line of hungry neighbors is to provide employment skills in fields where a trained work force is in high demand. As Cincinnati’s food scene grows, restaurants need trained employees who are ready to work. Cincinnati COOKS! not only provides those employees, but the program is aimed at creating stability and self-reliance so our graduates can successfully support themselves and their families. Meet our graduates Adam and Tiara.

What is Cincinnati COOKS!?

Cincinnati COOKS!Cincinnati COOKS! is a free culinary job training program for under- and unemployed individuals. During the 10-week course, students learn the mechanics of a commercial kitchen, as well as professional and life skills to ensure success in the food service industry and in their personal lives. Course topics include: food safety, food inventory and storage, basic nutrition and knife skills. In addition to our staff, COOKS! students benefit from the experience of volunteer chefs and professionals.

Cincinnati COOKS! Culinary Job Training ProgramsSince the program began in 2001, over 1,500 people have graduated. Those students have gone on to find employment at more than 200 local culinary institutions including restaurants, school cafeterias, retirement communities, day care centers, corporate dining halls, catering companies, bakeries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, banquet halls, Cincinnati International Airport, Cincinnati Museum Center, and Jack Cincinnati Casino.

Following graduation from Cincinnati COOKS!, students are eligible to enroll in our Second Course program. The eight-week course provides advanced skills training for management opportunities and employment in fine dining restaurants. Graduates from Cincinnati COOKS! and Second Course can continue their education at Cincinnati State, entering with 30 academic credit hours toward an Associate Degree in Culinary Management.

Cincinnati COOKS! Feeds Hungry Kids

Cincinnati COOKS! Feeds Hungry Kids

Kids Cafe - Donate CincinnatiCincinnati COOKS! not only offers adults a second chance at employment, but also provides critical food assistance to children through Kids Cafe. In our region, over over 80,000 children are food insecure and may not know where they will find their next meal. Consistent, good nutrition is critical to supporting a child’s ability to grow and learn. Thousands of students depend on the free and reduced breakfast and lunch meals offered at their schools, only to go home to no dinner. Kids Cafe works with after-school programs to provide children with a third hot, nutritious meal each day. All Kids Cafe meals are prepared by Cincinnati COOKS! students, providing them with critical culinary skills and the opportunity to help others.

Freestore Foodbank is working toward making our Greater Cincinnati region a place where every child has the food needed to develop into a healthy adult and where every adult has the opportunity to earn a living for themselves and their families.


Second Course is an extension of our Cincinnati COOKS! culinary job training program.Consider hosting a Chef’s Table for your next family celebration and corporate entertaining. Enjoy a wonderful five-course dining experience held in our commercial kitchen while helping our Second Course students learn to plan, execute, and serve a gourmet meal. To learn more about scheduling a Chef’s Table, volunteering or donating to the Cincinnati COOKS! program, please email Mindy Hammer or call (513) 482-7099.

Cincinnati Cooks CateringUse Cincinnati Cooks Catering for your next meeting or event. Our full service catering business specializes in corporate and social events, working with your budget to provide an exceptional menu and service for the occasion. All the profits from this social enterprise, which employs COOKS! graduates, support the Cincinnati COOKS! program.

Cooks Cucina - A Cooking Class With FlavorBrush up your cooking skills by taking a class with COOKS! Cucina. Our professional cooks and guest chefs will be offering cooking classes and events at our COOKS! kitchen on Central Parkway. All proceeds of COOKS! Cucina programs support the Cincinnati COOKS! workforce development program. Classes will begin this spring. To learn more, please email Mindy Hammer or call (513) 482-7099.