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Affinities: A Recipe for Change
Lauren Murrow | Photo: Wesley Verhoeve | June 29, 2016
A portrait gallery of homeless and low-income chefs in training.
Each person copes with hardship in his or her own way. For Bayview resident Lorraine Hanks, who has dealt with mental illness since being laid off in 2009, it’s baking strawberry-rhubarb pies. “That process is like therapy for me,” she says.
Hanks, 50, is one of five budding cooks in the most recent class of Chefs, a culinary program run by Episcopal Community Services that trains homeless and low-income residents to work in the food service industry. Over 30 percent of Chefs students have done time in prison; many have battled substance abuse or trauma. When Hanks applied last year, she says, “I was a month away from homelessness.”
The seven-month program culminates in a 240-hour internship at participating eateries like Nopa and Kokkari; Hanks completed her internship at Lotta’s Bakery in Nob Hill, where she was struck by the universal power of food. “We cook when somebody dies, we cook when a child is born,” she says. “I’ve realized cooking is related to everything: to family, to religion, to happiness, to sadness.”
To be published in the August 2016 issue of San Francisco