Good Shepherd Kitchen: Culinary Training Serving up a Future
Culinary Training Program Graduation December 2023
"Because of this program, I can be a better mom and provider for my son. Chef is preparing us for what's ahead!” ~ Rachael

Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma has launched an inspiring culinary training program called ‘Good Shepherd Kitchen.’ This 12-week course, held at The Market at Catholic Charities and led by Chef Michael Fusco, focuses on essential culinary skills needed in the food service industry. The program aims to provide students with upward career mobility, but its impact goes far beyond just professional training.

Good Shepherd Kitchen began with a pilot class last summer and just graduated its second class. Seven students were enrolled, and Fusco is proud that all seven completed the training program. In addition to receiving top-notch training and experience, students are awarded a stipend to help offset expenses, as the program runs Monday through Thursday, 9 am to 2 pm.

Rachael, a single mother to a 3-year-old son with a congenital heart defect and partial deafness, represents the program’s transformative impact. Formerly a server, she had to leave work to care for her son. Now that he’s in preschool, she sees this program as a chance to build a better future for them. “Because of this program, I can be a better mom and provider for my son,” she says. “Chef is preparing us for what’s ahead!”

Another student, Carmen, sees the program as a stepping stone to working in food service so she can complete her degree and possibly pursue a Master’s.

The curriculum includes classroom instruction covering cooking skills, kitchen and food safety, nutrition basics, menu design, various cooking methods, restaurant equipment and structure, among other topics. The program culminates in a capstone project where students plan and prepare a meal, showcasing their newly acquired skills.

Lynette, a mother of 13 children, is participating in the program with her daughter, Zion. For Lynette, completing this program represents a beacon of hope in her life. Lynette was unable to finish school as a kid, along with many other things in life, and tearfully said, “This is the first thing in my life that I’ll actually finish!”

De’Angelo, known as ‘Miss Dede’ to her classmates, has a background in food service and sees this program as a valuable addition to her resume. Her aspirations include working on the Disney Cruise Line and eventually in Chef Fusco’s culinary program, aiming to give back to her community.

The course concluded on December 7th with a field trip to Andolini’s on Cherry Street, providing students with a glimpse into a real restaurant kitchen. All seven students were offered jobs in food service on campus at the University of Tulsa with Sodexo.

Good Shepherd Kitchen not only teaches job skills but also imparts real-life skills. Graduates leave with a Serv-Safe Food Handlers Certification, a Certificate of Completion, new skill sets and promising job opportunities. This program is indeed a beacon of hope, opening doors to a brighter future for those in need.

The next training class is set to begin on January 15th, 2024.

For more information or to apply for the Good Shepherd Kitchen Culinary program, visit