In a heartwarming story for our “Good News Guarantee,” a Chicago non-profit is serving up inspiration for students passionate about the culinary industry. The Foundation for Culinary Arts blends restaurant-inspired meals with a generous portion of self-empowerment, creating a unique recipe for success.

Led by Catherine De Orio, the former host of Chicago’s “Check, Please!” and now the Executive Director of the Foundation for Culinary Arts, the organization is dedicated to empowering and inspiring high school students through educational programming and vocational training.

“The whole mission of Foundation for Culinary Arts is to empower and inspire students, and we do that through educational programming but also vocational training,” said De Orio.

The foundation focuses on providing scholarships and training to students from underserved communities, aiming to catch them at a crucial time when they are making decisions about their future careers.

“We really want to get kids when they’re younger and making those choices and kind of not sure, like they’re interested in things, but they don’t necessarily have the opportunities. We work 100 percent with students from underserved communities,” added De Orio.

Josue Cervantes of Hermosa, a graduate of the program, shared how the free classes provided him with a life-changing experience. Cervantes utilized his newfound culinary skills to start a small business and pursue a bachelor’s degree in the culinary field with financial assistance from the foundation.

In a pasta-making boot camp, students are immersed in the art of crafting noodles from scratch, sparking their interest in a potential future in the culinary industry while gaining valuable life skills.

“These are portable life skills,” said De Orio, “professionally and personally.”

The Foundation for Culinary Arts offers free one-day and weeklong cooking workshops throughout the year, and students can apply for culinary scholarships. To learn more, visit