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 as ideas and ideals in 2014, incorporating in 2016. We are an IRS 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.
"First Course" is our three-week job-training program for professional kitchens, designed to provide un- and under-employed adult students with the basic kitchen skills, confidence, and connections they need to get good jobs in food service. First Course covers cooking skills, knife stills, professional kitchen basics and traditions, food safety, and soft skills like job seeking strategies and interviewing practice. We are committed to guiding all graduates to curated job leads that set them up to pursue their goals and long-term success.
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 have tested this curriculum—and our model—with twelve students so far, during two sessions.
We are currently building capacity: expanding our board, professionalizing, refining our teaching and curriculum, and of course raising funds for operations. If you would like to support our work in training people and finding them dignified work, you can donate online:
First Course is open to anyone, but people who experience un- and under-employment are especially encouraged to apply. You can sign up here and we'll notify you when you we are accepting applications for the next cohorts.
Today, we don't have a next session scheduled, but we'll be updating this page with full details when we do, and of course we'll be contacting anyone who has signed up to hear more.
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 has more than ten-years experience in helping entrepreneurs, startups and charitable organizations. An attorney by training, she is the director of StartingBlock Madison.
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.
5/28/2016: Capital Times: Culinary training initiative lands $10K in funding from city
6/05/2017: Capital Times: Culinary training program FoodWorks creates cooks from scratch
6/15/2017: WORT-FM: 8 O'Clock Buzz with Tony Castañeda (interview with Matt starts around 13:00)
6/16/2017: Madison Magazine: FoodWorks Madison brings new life to restaurant industry
2/01/2018: Channel 47: Special Report: FoodWorks Madison bridging culinary gap
2/06/2018: Civil Eats: There’s a Nationwide Cook Shortage. Culinary Training Programs to the Rescue.