Culinary Quick Start Program

Sage Restaurant Group and EatDenver, the local industry group for independent restaurants, have teamed with Emily Griffith to develop the curriculum, and a cadre of some 30 chefs have already volunteered to help teach the classes, EatDenver executive director Adam Schlegel said Wednesday.

Offering such a course tuition-free is unprecedented as far as Schlegel knows, but the constantly swelling numbers of eateries in the metro area are also reaching new levels of desperation, Schlegel said. With more than 250 restaurants a year coming online in Denver each of the past two years and only a small percentage of locations closing, cook salaries are rising at 20 percent a year and causing some restaurants to get into bidding wars to try to find back-of-the-house employees.

“It’s not going to be able in four weeks to make you go out and become an executive chef,” Schlegel said of the program, for which classes will be offered on weeknights at the technical college’s downtown location. “But it will be able to give you the know-how to be able to work in a kitchen where workers are so needed.”

The program (further information available here) sprang from a grant the city of Denver received from the Walmart Foundation and Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership to attack pressing issues in its retail workforce.