Would you hire these students?


Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
I can't link to the URL as it's cookie driven. I'm aware that this is a technical violation of the Cheftalk user agreement. If it's a problem, feel free to delete it.

But here's the whole article.

Cooking Arts Program Gives Inmates a New Life


Three years ago, Joy Hansen was strung out and miserable, writing bad checks to support her methamphetamine habit. When criminal charges began piling up, she went to jail and lost custody of her three children.

"I lost everything that ever mattered to me," says the 33-year-old West Jordan woman. "After that, I just didn't care anymore."
Today, Hansen is sober and a banquet chef at Weber State University. In February, she will begin classes at the prestigious California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. She doesn't have her kids back yet, but she is on her way.

The catalyst of this remarkable turnaround? Two years in Salt Lake Community College's culinary arts program, completed while an inmate at the Utah State Prison in Draper. Through prison classes in food service, baking and catering management, Hansen gained career skills. More important, she won self-confidence.

"I'm so grateful for going to prison," Hansen says, chuckling at the strangeness of the statement. "When I got locked up, I made a personal choice to change my life. The [culinary] program gives people like me a second chance."
Joined May 26, 2001
Would I? If they had the skills I needed, and the attitude I want to see (come to work on time, do the work, do more :) and show that you always want to keep learning and improving): YOU BET I'D GIVE THEM A CHANCE. In fact, I did once hire an ex-con -- the only "training" and experience he had was at a fried-chicken joint, but he wanted to learn -- and he became my best worker. The owners thought I was crazy, but they didn't get to know him. What he had done in the past was in the past. What he wanted for the future was where his head was. If that's true of those graduates, more power to them.
Joined Oct 6, 2002
Suzane is right. Attitude is everything.

It is a sorry fact but some of the best chefs have the greatest skill and techniques but have the worst character. What good is your skill if you don't have character.

Character to be honest, work hard, show up on work on time, learn, etc etc etc.

My dad always used to tell me when I was in trouble or depressed. You know, this will only build character.
Joined Aug 4, 2000
I'm originally from the southern California desert through which passes lots of criminals on the run. And as a result we're all a bit jaded on strangers in that area.

My issue would be the individual's past history: child molester? violent acts? Getting busted for pot or a dui is a totally different thing.


Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
I actually have no opinion on the issue. I think that ex-cons should have opportunity. I also think that an employer has obligations to his customer's and employee's safety as well as good business obligations to hire the best available employees.

I don't know where the balance lies in that equation.



Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
At one time, 50% of my workforce in the kitchen were ex felons. All the dishwashers were hired from work release, and my sous... well. Let's just say he I knew his probation officer as well as I knew him. Sometimes they screw up and you have to show up in court, but sometimes it's for a good reason like they're getting married. Most of them had never ever had a job before so they had to adjust. They never understood that people had expectations, and that being on time meant being to work at a certain time.

I never thought that I'd ever be hanging out with criminals, but this was a truly rewarding experience.


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