Dropout to Gourmet from The Salvation Army, MA on Vimeo.

“I really wanted to do it, but I didn’t have the means to do it.” Without the resources, a high school diploma or even a job, it seemed that Patricia’s dreams of putting her passion for cooking to work in a kitchen would go unfulfilled.

Patricia Sujballi-Nesbit had quit high school, a choice she said dragged down her confidence. “I would call Le Cordon Bleu a lot of the times and just hang up the phone. I didn’t feel good enough.”

Patricia describes the day she found out that she had been offered a free spot in the Culinary Arts Training Program at The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center of Boston. “I was really nervous that I wouldn’t be accepted into the program. It was the best news I ever heard. And so I came and I gave it 100%.”

PatriciaChef Timothy Tucker, who created the Culinary Training Program, saw the determination to succeed from this married mother of three children. “Every part of her soul, you could tell, she knew how important it was for herself to invest in the program.”

“This is where I found myself.” Patricia says the program gave her far more than culinary skills. “Self esteem, being confident, managing money and all these different things. I didn’t just leave as a chef, with a chef coat, a knife set and a certificate. I left knowing who I was, what I want out of life.”

Since finishing the program, Patricia has gone on to found her own personal chef and catering business called Epic Gourmet.

She has a message for people in similar circumstances. “You can do it. It’s going to be hard. You’re going to cry and some days might not be so great, but it’s going to be worth it.”