Success Story: Dennis Wilson

Leave a comment

denniswilson_culinary

When Dennis remembers his childhood holidays, delicious home cooking always comes to mind. “All the women in my family were great cooks. Most of my family came from the South, so we always had fried chicken, collards, and cornbread when we got together.”

Dennis loved to help out in the kitchen and even dreamt of one day cooking professionally. Decades later, he’s finally realizing that dream.

A friend told Dennis about The Doe Fund’s Ready, Willing & Able program, where he could gain new skills and train for a career in the culinary arts. It sounded too good to be true. “I thought my friend was exaggerating. But then I got here and it was even better than I had hoped!”

After a few months on pots and pans duty, Dennis began working his way up in the kitchen. His talent and passion for baking soon became clear, and he began preparing muffins, cookies, breads, and danishes for The Doe Fund’s weekly farmers markets.

Dennis’s hard work and dedication have paid off. In a few day’s time he’ll join the culinary staff at The Doe Fund’s Harlem Center for Opportunity as its newest Food Handler.

Eventually, Dennis hopes to own his own bakery. But for now he takes each day as it comes. “It’s about becoming motivated and inspired by what you do. I know this is going to lead to something great.”

Graduate Success Story: Derrick Bouknight

Leave a comment

Derrick-DishesbyDoe

Derrick never thought cooking would change his life. Then again, he never expected to achieve most of what he has over the past three years.

Derrick was at a low point in his life when he joined The Doe Fund. “I had lost my job, custody of my children, my apartment, and my car. Then I went to jail. I didn’t mentally or emotionally recover from those loses.” Ready, Willing & Able, The Doe Fund’s transitional work program for formerly incarcerated and homeless men, offered Derrick the chance to start again.

As much as he loves it now, Derrick wasn’t excited about joining The Doe Fund’s Culinary Arts team at first. But then, “I started having fun and learning things.” That’s when he decided to dedicate himself to the kitchen.

After graduating from Ready, Willing & Able, Derrick became a full-time employee in the Culinary Arts department, where he is Food Service Coordinator, Customer Service Class Instructor, and Farmers’ Market Manager.

He is eager to improve and give his all in the kitchen. “Being able to grow, learn and progress is such an amazing feeling.” Yet some of the most important changes in Derrick’s life have taken place outside of the kitchen. “I’m able to raise and take care of my grandchildren and children like I truly want to, and I’m able to be a positive role model in their life.”

Sautéed Zucchini and Yellow Squash in a Homemade Basil Pesto Sauce

Leave a comment

20170519_095219

Ingredients:

2 zucchini
2 yellow squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ onion, thinly sliced
½ cup basil pesto (see below for basil pesto ingredients)
Salt and pepper to taste

Basil Pesto: Yield 4 cups
½ cup pine nuts
2 large bunches fresh basil leaves, washed and stemmed
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 cups olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper
½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Directions:

Preheat the oven for 400 degrees. Roast the pine nuts on a baking sheet in the oven until golden, about 5 minutes. Place the basil in the work bowl of a food processor and begin processing. Add the garlic, then pine nuts, and continue processing. When the mixture has a grainy, paste like consistency, begin adding the oil a little at a time, continuing to process. Wait until the oil is absorbed before adding the next small amount. Add salt and pepper. When the oil is added and absorbed, add the cheese. As soon as the cheese is mixed in, stop processing; if you over process, the cheese will melt.

Wipe zucchini and squash with a damp towel. Cut the zucchini and yellow squash in half lengthwise, then cut them into 1/4″ thick slices. Heat the olive oil in the saucepan and saute the onions over medium heat until translucent. Add the sliced zucchini and squash and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the pesto and salt and pepper to taste, toss, and continue cooking for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool, and enjoy this wonderful vegetarian dish!

Tips: Place pesto in containers, seal, and label. You can use your pesto immediately after making it or store it up to 6 months in the freezer. Pesto stored in the refrigerator will last up to 1 month.

Graduate Success Story: Wesley Morrall

Leave a comment

WesleyMorris

At sixty-two years young, Wesley M. isn’t slowing down. He gives his all to every task in the kitchen and prides himself on always working at his highest level.

Since becoming Food Service Coordinator ,for the past three years, Wesley has played a key role in preparing three nutritious, carefully-prepared meals each day for men at The Doe Fund’s Bed-Stuy facility. “I love to create food that tastes good.”

Although he has received a broad culinary education at The Doe Fund, Wesley is especially proud of the baking skills he’s gained here—and his delicious cinnamon raisin danishes speak for themselves!

Yet the culinary arts program has offered Wesley much more than cooking skills; it has offered him the chance to reconnect with family. “Since I came to The Doe Fund I have been able to have a positive relationship with my kids and grandkids.”

Click link for the recipe below to make Wesley’s famous danishes at home!

https://dishesbydoe.com/2014/09/15/recipe-alert-cinnamon-danishes/

 

 

 

Angel’s Homemade Samoa Cookies

Leave a comment

20170303_102035

Who doesn’t love Girl Scout Cookies? Angel decided to make his own style of the original Samoa Cookie and instruct one of our Culinary Vocational trainees through the process. We hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did.

Ingredients:
Cookie Base
8 ounces butter
4 ounces sugar
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 ounces all purpose flour

Topping:
3 cups shredded coconut
15 ounces caramel
2 tablespoons milk
¼ teaspoon salt
8 ounces chocolate

Directions:
Cream butter and sugar with a pinch of salt until very light, about five minutes on medium speed. Beat in yolk and vanilla until smooth. Remove from mixer. Fold in sifted flour. Divide dough in half and roll evenly flat (about ¼ inch thick) between two pieces of parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut out dough with desired cookie cutter. Bake cookies in the preheated oven until slightly golden and soft, eight to ten minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Bake shredded coconut for about five minutes, or until golden brown. Melt caramel bits on a double boiler until smooth, about two minutes. Stir coconut into caramel. Melt chocolate on a double boiler until smooth. Dip the top portion of each cookie into melted chocolate and place onto the wire rack. Press a spoonful of caramel coconut mixture on the top of each cookie, then drizzle chocolate over the top of each cookie. Enjoy!

Happy Retirement, James!

Leave a comment

james

Fifteen years ago, James was in a dark place. He had lost everything because of drugs and alcohol: his family, his home, and his job. The path before him was unclear–all he knew was the he couldn’t live like this anymore.

Then, James walked through The Doe Fund’s doors and his future started to take shape. “Everything changed for me. I was able to regain the self-respect that I had lost and learned new skills I never knew I had in me.”

The biggest skill he uncovered? Cooking. After completing The Doe Fund’s Culinary Arts training, he was hired to teach other men in the program, himself.

Since then, James has taught more than 1,000 Culinary Arts trainees. But he’s done much more than that. “Many guys come to me, not sure of themselves or what they want to do. Some are on the verge of giving up. I talk to them like a father or a big brother and even pray for them. Then they train and go out and get hired by major companies. It not only helps them…it helps me be a better person.”

Now James is busy cooking up something different: plans for his retirement. “I’ll be focusing more on my health, working more as a deacon in my church, and spending more time with my family–especially the grandchildren.”

James knows his life would have been very different if he hadn’t found The Doe Fund all those years ago.

“The Doe Fund changed my life and helped to make me a better person.” And The Doe Fund is a better place because of him.

Thank you and good luck, James!

Home For The Holidays With The Doe Fund

Leave a comment

For some, the holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year. For others, it can be a heavy hearted struggle. We must do our best to make sure everyone is in good spirits and thought of. Here is the story of Rasheem Hughes, and his reflections on the holidays as a Doe Fund trainee and now as a staff member.

rhughes3

Rasheem Hughes, a graduate of The Doe Fund’s Ready, Willing & Able transitional work program and now Food Service Handler at our Bushwick facility, spent 17 years of his life incarcerated. He remembers feeling excited, motivated, and nervous about his first time home during the holidays while a trainee at The Doe Fund. For Rasheem, The Doe Fund provided an opportunity to be responsible, have a purpose in life, and to build and develop a work ethic for the very first time.

One of Rasheem’s most memorable moments as a trainee was the Holiday Party. He recalls that the staff made him feel welcome, supported, and as if he had a second chance in life to redeem himself. The food, atmosphere and bonds that were built reminded him of the same connection he had as a child during the holiday season with family and friends.

As a staff member, Rasheem is now contributing to the lives of trainees in the same way that The Doe Fund has contributed to his life. With support from fellow staff he is still growing to be the best he can. He offers guidance and support to trainees as they cope with struggles he can relate to so well. Rasheem feels as if he is now part of their solution to a better life.

When asked what advice Rasheem may have for trainees preparing for the holidays, whether they will be home for the first time since incarceration, facing family issues, or just haven’t found their own purpose as of yet, he stated, “focus on the opportunities that are offered, and take advantage of why you decided to join The Doe Fund. Trust and believe in the program because you will not regret it.”