Culinary Arts Program changing lives for some who've struggled

Culinary graduates thriving at Tampa restaurant
Posted at 4:57 PM, Oct 05, 2017

Both Josh Kene and Dominic Provenzano instantly smiled when they talked to ABC Action News about their workplace.

"I'm 100 percent blessed," Provenzano said. 

Both of these men have faced struggles throughout their lives. Kene spent two years in prison for drug trafficking. Provenzano has a slight learning disability.

"I don't let that get the best of me," Provenzano said. 

They now work at Tampa's popular Ulele restaurant as line cooks. It's Provenzano's first paying job and life-changing for Kene as well.

"I never thought I'd be working for a company offering a 401k and paid vacations," Kene said. 

One decision and many months of hard work got them to this sweet spot. They enrolled in the Metropolitan Ministry Culinary Arts Program and recently graduated. 

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"We get to actually see people's lives change right in front of us. It's such a blessing," Cliff Barsi with Metropolitan Ministries said. 

The program consists of eight hours a day training for four months and comes at no cost to students. Most are homeless and living at Metropolitan Ministries. Other students are referred. 

Kene said his goal moving forward is to take care of his sick mother and continue working hard at Ulele where they allow him time off of work to help his mother. 

Provenzano wants to be an executive chef one day.

"I know I still have a road to go, but I'm down for taking that approach and working my way to that level because this is just the beginning for me," Provenzano said.