We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.

by Catherine De Orio, December 11, 2023

As every chef worth their salt will attest, the key ingredient to any dish is love. When a plate is prepared with passion, intention, and care, the connection to the food and the people you share it with is savored with every bite. The same goes for giving. It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into the act itself. At the Foundation for Culinary Arts, our community-forward mission has always been to inspire and empower socially and economically disadvantaged students through educational programming and career advancement opportunities in the culinary industry. But it’s so much more than that… We are expanding worlds by expanding palates, and giving young people the hope and confidence they need to reach their potential.

As ever, F4CA is steadfast in its commitment to creating culinary career pathways, nourishing families in need, and building a sustainable future for the industry we so dearly love. But we can’t do it without you and your amazing generosity. As we celebrate the holidays — a season that is full of abundance for those with means — we are reminded how important it is to balance out our bounty and pay it forward. This year, thanks to your charitable donations, F4CA’s Yes, Chef! Culinary Camp program was able to host nearly 100 high school students from Chicago’s disinvested communities, and award the inaugural Ray Geraldson, Jr., academic excellence scholarship to Jose Cervantes. (To date, F4CA has awarded more than $3 million in scholarships to aspiring chefs and hospitality professionals.)

Your donations are expanding worlds by expanding palates.


Here are a few more exciting, year-end highlights to note: This year, F4CA transitioned its Yes, Chef! Culinary Camps back to in-person camps, and expanded the programming to take place four times a year with a spring baking bootcamp, a week-long summer foundational cooking and baking skills camp, a fall fresh pasta-making bootcamp, and a holiday baking bootcamp. Additionally, we added a community cooking class that took place the weekend before Thanksgiving to teach campers and their families how to brine, spatchcock, roast and carve a turkey, as well as how to make all of the tasty sides and dessert for a well-rounded Thanksgiving feast. Each participant’s family was given a turkey from Harrison’s Poultry and the ingredients required to recreate the full meal at home on Thanksgiving Day.

What’s more, F4CA officially launched its Mentorship program in 2023 — a post-camp bridge program that provides campers with a mentor who can assist with securing internships or jobs in the industry, as well as help with navigating resume creation, the interview process, and applying for scholarships and college. It’s an ambitious undertaking, but we’ve never shied away from a challenge. For 2024, in addition to providing more Yes, Chef! Culinary Camps to even more students (always at zero cost to the students or their families, with takeaway cooking equipment kits for every student), our goal is to expand the Mentorship program — and we are actively looking for donations and partners to make this dream a reality.

As my Nonna Kay always said, “It is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.” Thank you in advance for opening your hearts to F4CA’s students and programming. The majority of our campers are the first in their families to attend college, which means that you are playing a proactive part in breaking the generational cycle of poverty. And the proof, as they say, is in the pudding: Cervantes, for example, who started with F4CA his sophomore year of high school at North-Grand, is now finishing his first semester at Johnson & Wales University, where he is excelling in his culinary studies while simultaneously running a baking business. And then there’s Maia Jones, Luvy Torres, and Aljaray Reasonover, all of whom are stirring things up at impressive culinary schools across the country.

Wishing you and yours a holiday season that is filled with comfort and joy. And cheers to a new year of full bellies, warm hearts, and possibilities! In the new year, we will be hosting a series of events and announcing new ways to get involved — stay tuned!

Friendly reminder: In order to receive your tax-deductible donation for 2023, you will need to make your donation by December 31, 2023. Foundation for Culinary Arts is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization, so any donation you make to F4CA is tax-deductible to the extent provided by law.

Recent Posts