Today we’re talking with Timothy Tucker, a 2008 Terra Madre delegate who teaches a culinary training course at the Salvation Army Center of Hope in Louisville, Kentucky. It’s an innovative model–one he hopes will be replicated elsewhere. It’s a ten week program that the Center has been running for about 3.5 years, a program in which homeless people are not just given a meal, but also given culinary vocational training that can help get them back on their feet. Timothy helped design the program, and has been with it since its inception. He has a commitment not just to culinary training but to good, clean, and fair food.
Q: I know that you were working in Louisville restaurants before moving over to the Salvation Army. Had you ever taught culinary skills before you began working with this program in 2005?
TT: Never! I am a much better teacher now than when I started. I feel like I am more in tune with the students, and as the day changes so do the classes. I feel like I have so much that I want to teach that instead of 3 classes a year, I feel like the last 4 years has been one big class. As the money crunch has happened, we have taught more old school things like canning and curing– you know, the way grandma did it!
Q: Can you share any of your favorite success stories with us?
TT: Yup, Cooper. He was an R and B deejay in the early 80’s on the radio (his voice is like silk). Drugs took control of his life for along time after that. He came through our program, and he finished my class with an A and perfect attendance, then went to cook for kids at the YMCA safe house. He has been there for two years, he loves his job and pretty much everyone loves him. I have many more stories. In fact, in my book I have a whole chapter on student stories.
Q: Do you think the Center of Hope culinary training model is replicable elsewhere?
TT: YES!!!!!! Please help me… I’m working on it.