Fresh Starts Culinary Academy is Homeward Bound’s flagship job-training program, serving low-income students from the community as well as Homeward Bound residents.

Students work hands-on in our kitchen to learn core skills for a career in the busy culinary industry! The 10-week course, valued at $10,000, enrolls eligible students without charge. We offer a $1,000 bonus to each student upon completion.

As a trainee, key benefits include:

  • Learning from professional chefs with broad experience in restaurants, institutional kitchens and catering for events
  • Classroom sessions on professional development and personal finance
  • Food Handler & ServSafe Manager certification fees included
  • Uniforms and kitchen-approved shoes provided at no charge
  • Transporation assistance if needed
  • Job placement support

The next class will start Monday, April 8, 2024. Launch your New Year by stepping into a new career path! See more details on our flyer in Spanish or English.

Students may apply online or download and print an application to let us know that you’re ready to get cooking! 

For questions, please contact Chef Instructor Andrew Wild by email or call 415-382-3363 x231.

Catalyst Kitchens Model Member

Our program is a model member of Catalyst Kitchens, a nationwide affiliate group for organizations that combine culinary training with social enterprise.

Orange badge says "Approved Program"

Our program has been certified by the American Culinary Federation.

Fresh Starts Culinary Academy has been designed for students to build skills in two Homeward Bound kitchens with the added opportunity to work at Fresh Starts Chef Events, a series of celebrity chef dinners produced by Homeward Bound. Our team also produces Wagster Treats dog biscuits and Halo HomeMades, a sister line of jams and salsas.

Dylan Builds Career as Chef de Cuisine

As a teenager, Dylan Ghadiri did not consider cooking as a career option. His dreams focused on baseball, but his grades declined too much to keep him on the high school team.

“I was in a bad spot. I was in and out of Juvenile Hall,” Dylan recalls. Then his grandparents learned about Fresh Starts Culinary Academy and suggested that he try it.

“Things clicked and life went in a different direction,” says Dylan, who has been assembling an impressive culinary resume since graduating from our training program in 2012.

Now chef de cuisine at John Ash & Co., Dylan has worked in the same role for Miller & Lux at San Francisco’s Chase Center, as sous chef at Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg, Picco in Larkspur and at Diavola Pizzeria & Salumeria in Geyserville. He also spent time in the kitchens of high-profile chefs like Mark Stark and Michael Chiarello of Bottega.

With a serious passion for making fresh pasta, Dylan set up a takeout pasta business from his home when the pandemic shut down restaurants. Among his ideas for the future is opening a shop providing handmade pasta for home chefs and catering.

“When I finished the Fresh Starts training, I knew that management would be one of my goals,” he adds. “At this point, I’m working to become an executive chef someday.”