Kitchen Careers, after Addiction:

A recent New York Times article highlights a Kentucky couple who created DV8 Kitchen to hire, train and encourage persons with opioid addiction to recover, and consider new career options.  

Are you familiar with other, similar programs, focusing on the needs of addiction recovery, and job skills development?  Share more examples of how these programs are working to meet the needs in your community.  We need to learn from each others’ work, and create opportunities that connect recovery and career/skill training.  Please help us find and share these models.


Mike Cruse

Career Pathways, and Disabilities and Equitable Outcomes Moderator



Thank you for starting this discussion. Perhaps the most powerful powerful statement is, "They realized that they had lost 13 employees to addiction over 10 years, and that half the cases were related to opioid drugs. “They were not fired,” Mr. Perez said. “They were dead.'" 

Beyond this personal narrative, many employers are recognizing the wide scope of the problem. In Fighting the Opioid addiction linked to filling job vacancies,  They discuss the Recovery to Work Pilot Program which pairs local workforce development boards across the state with individuals rebuilding their lives due to drug problems. We would love to hear more about any programs like this in your area. 

Do any of your LWIBs have programs like this? How are you dealing with this in your job training programs? 


About 20 years ago I visited an inspiring program for former inmates, run on the campus of a Catholic religious order outside Albany, NY.  (Sorry I don't recall all the details right now and am not sure whether the program still exists.) But in a nutshell, the program was led by a priest to help former inmates (most if not all of whom were somehow involved with illegal drugs -- as users and/or sellers) move into jobs in the restaurant industry.  

The program had three components:  (1) training (to enable participants to perform all aspects of running a restaurant, including cooking, serving, decorating, purchasing, welcoming customers......); (2) job- and drug-counseling; (3) job placement (in partner hotel and restaurants) but in communities far from the original home turf of the participant, in recognition of the fact that, if inmates go back to their previous communities, they are much too likely to reconnect to their old negative social systems and revert to their previous lives).  

My exposure to this program and other great re-entry agencies like The Fortune Society in NY City inspired me to help set up (with the help of the Nicholson Foundation) a county prisoner re-entry initiative at a community college in NJ a decade later.

 But opiod and other addictive drugs -- and drug policies -- remain major factors not only in the lives of prisoners  but of the clients that many adult education and workforce development programs serve.    

Paul Jurmo                                                                                                                                                                     


We offer a 14-week culinary job training programs for adults 18+ years of age. Our students include adults from all sorts of previous  jobs, experiences, etc. In our program, students must be 1-year clean and sober. However, people with drug offenses are often already in treatment and/or active in some form of regular recovery services. We don't hadle those issues directly ourselves but encourage students to use the community resources already in place and better equipped to cover those needs. The professional kitchen environment (especially restaurants) is one of those professions that very easily became a place of drug/alcohol use/abuse due to the stress and pressure of kitchens. When we are aware that a student has an addition problem, we discuss this openly and encourage them to work in an environment where such abuse is not as rampant.

Hi, Mev -

Thanks for sharing about your program with us.  Can you tell us the name and location?  It’s good to hear that you’ve established a partnership with community resources that are “better equipped to cover those needs” of persons dealing with addiction.  I wonder if one of these resources includes your state vocational rehabilitation services?  

As you point out, culinary careers are often affected by addiction, and treatment.  It’s so important that your work includes open discussions with your learners who have struggled with addiction, and that you encourage them to find environments that will respect and support their continued recovery.

Thanks again for sharing with us.  I hope others who’re doing this type of work to support learners with addictions will also come forward to share their work.


Mike Cruse

Career Pathways Moderator