About FoodWorks

FoodWorks is a community-service organization founded on a strong belief in the central role of food in our lives and its power to affect a broad social mission: economic development, job creation, public education, community-building, and skill-sharing. FoodWorks will build and maintain networks in pursuit of this mission, and will support other like-minded food-oriented institutions, economies, ecologies, and entrepreneurs in and around Madison.

Our roots are in entrepreneurship (both in and out of food), small-business, and in the Slow Food movement. We are based in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. FoodWorks is currently volunteer-powered, and started in 2014.

About First Course

"First Course" is our three-week job-training program for professional kitchens, designed to provide students with the basic kitchen skills they need to get good jobs in food service. Upon graduation, we'll provide all students a $1000 bonus to incentivize completion and help offset their opportunity cost. Finally, we are committed to placing all graduates in good jobs that set them up to pursue their goals, with ongoing mentorship to support their job retention and long-term success.

An Open-Source Cook's Curriculum

First Course’s innovative curriculum has been developed in partnership with award-winning regional chefs & kitchen managers, community partners, Slow Food Madison, and an expert from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Education. We'll be open-sourcing this curriculum, making it available for other communities to use it, fork it, translate it, and otherwise tailor it to local needs.

We are currently testing this curriculum—and our model—with four students. The city of Madison has provided partial funding for this test and the reporting that will follow.

Future Plans

Our immediate goal is to finish our pilot, place all students in jobs, and report our results to the City of Madison. Also, we need to raise funds to finish paying for the test!

Once we've reported on our pilot program, we would like to refine the curriculum and beta test it, before scaling up First Course to ten sessions per year. That would mean training, supporting and finding jobs for up to 200 graduates a year.

Our Founders

Jonny Hunter

Jonny is co-owner of the Underground Food Collective, which includes the Underground Butcher Shop, Underground Catering, Underground Meats, and the restaurant Forequarter. Hunter was nominated for the James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef” award in 2015 and 2016. He is also a founding member of the Madison Area Chefs Network (MACN). A nationally-recognized chef, Hunter holds a masters in public policy from UW-Madison and has taught culinary classes at MATC.

Matt Feifarek

Matt, our Executive Director, has more than 20 years of experience as an entrepreneur working in the IT field, building tools for small businesses with web technologies. Since 2004, he has been a leader in the Slow Food movement, both in New York City and Madison.

Chandra Miller Fienen

Chandra has more than ten-years experience in helping entrepreneurs, startups and charitable organizations. An attorney by training, she serves on the Planning Committee for StartingBlock Madison.

Contact Us

vm: 608-957-7330