Training & Businesses

Our training programs and businesses provide comprehensive job training, support, and assistance.

Student chefs put food on a counter full of plates

Fresh Starts Culinary Academy

Fresh Starts Culinary Academy is the flagship job-training program at Homeward Bound of Marin. We provide 10 weeks of active training to low-income adults from the community as well as participants in our shelter and housing services. The next class will start Monday, July 1, with classes from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays.

Students work hands-on in our kitchen to build core skills and knowledge of ingredients, cooking techniques, kitchen equipment and food safety.

The 10-week course, valued at $10,000, enrolls eligible students without charge. We offer a $1,000 bonus to each student upon completion.

Apply for Fresh Starts Culinary Academy
A man holds up his certificate of culinary arts after completing the fresh starts culinary academy. His teacher stands next to him.

As a trainee, your key benefits include:

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

Catalyst Kitchens

Our program is a Model Member of Catalyst Kitchens, a nationwide affiliate group for organizations that combine culinary training with mission-driven businesses. The training has been approved by the American Culinary Federation.

A Model Member of Catalyst Kitchens logo

a chef holds a large tray of food

Zack's story

Zack’s family lost their housing in 2019 in the hometown where they lived for years. “My mom was the only one working at that time. It was money, just financially we couldn’t make it,” he says. They lived for months in their car and at a local camping spot, until they discovered Homeward Bound of Marin in the same town. That’s when Zack learned about Fresh Starts Culinary Academy. He found the hands-on training was approachable and supportive.

“Everything there was useful – knife skills, technique, all of it,” says Zack, who graduated in 2022.

He accepted a transitional position with Wagster Treats, learning to bake and helping with other kitchen projects as needed. Today, he has a full-time position on our culinary team and occasionally leads service for guests as catering captain in The Key Room. He and his parents have moved to an affordable apartment. “Good work, good atmosphere, good people. Things have really changed,” he adds.

Zack, a graduate of the culinary academy

Fresh Starts Academy printable flyer

Information about the next start date for Fresh Starts Culinary Academy can be downloaded here in English or in Spanish.

These flyers may not be accessible.

The Key Room

The Key Room is a flexible, modern event space available to rent for corporate meetings, special occasions and business workshops. We’d love to host your future celebrations and business events.

Events and catering

Founded in 2008, The Key Room serves as an extension of Homeward Bound of Marin, helping fulfill its mission of moving people from crises to stability to thriving. This unique venue adjacent to our Novato headquarters earns revenue to support our programs and builds employment skills for people facing barriers to work and housing.

Please email us with questions about availability and catering menus.

Event & Catering Coordinator

The Key Room with round tables set up with tablecloths, full dinnerware and a flower centerpiece

Fresh Starts Chef Events

Our monthly series of Fresh Starts Chef Events features the stellar talents of celebrity chefs like Ron Siegel, Duskie Estes and PBS-TV Chef Joanne Weir.

Demonstrations and meals

Each event in The Key Room offers a chance to see our culinary trainees and graduates in action while enjoying recipe demonstrations and a delicious meal. Take a look at our calendar of upcoming events and sign up for email updates to get news about our plans.

Please contact us with any questions.
415-382-3363 x213

Chef Heidi Krahling presenting at a Chef Event

Wagster Dog Treats

Wagster Treats are premium dog biscuits baked in our training kitchen. This social enterprise extends the mission of Homeward Bound by employing graduates of Fresh Starts Culinary Academy as they build skills and confidence for a brighter future.

Our simple recipes combine familiar ingredients like apples, oats, coconut and peanut butter.

Where to purchase

Wagster Treats are available at Pet Food Express, Whole Foods Market and other Bay Area pet retailers or you can order online for shipping nationwide. They can also be purchased at our Administration Office. Feel free to stop and shop any weekday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

1385 N. Hamilton Parkway in Novato.

All profits from Wagster Treats support shelter, housing and job-training programs at Homeward Bound of Marin. They’re healthy for dogs and good for the community.

Learn more about Wagster Dog Treats
Four members of the wagster team holding bags of treats and standing in front of sign reading 'Wagster, gourmet dog treats made by people moving out of homelessness'

HALO Products

The gourmet HALO products made in our kitchen draw on seasonal ingredients and include select items harvested from our onsite produce garden. The lineup ranges from fresh fruit jams to pickles, BBQ sauce, chocolate bark for the winter holidays and HALO Honey from our onsite hives.

All products are handmade by students and staff at Fresh Starts Culinary Academy, helping people develop skills and confidence for employment in the busy culinary industry. Please contact us to find out what’s in stock.
415-382-3363 x209

Where to purchase

Our HALO products can be purchased at our Administration Office. Feel free to stop and shop any weekday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

1385 N. Hamilton Parkway in Novato.

All proceeds from your purchase support shelter, housing and training programs at Homeward Bound of Marin.

Chocolate bark with pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries