FORMER SQ CORRECTIONAL OFFICER STARTS CULINARY PROGRAM FOR
THE HOMELESS AND THOSE RECOVERING FROM SUBSTANCE ABUSE
After working as a correctional guard and ironworker, Paul Fields became an executive chef. Now, he’s using his skills to lead a culinary training program that helps participants turn their lives around.
Fields once worked as a correctional officer at San Quentin State Prison and as an ironworker who helped build San Francisco’s Oracle Park, reported CBS Bay Area, which honored Fields with one of its weekly Jefferson Awards.
“I’m giving them a chance to restart, a fresh start,” Fields said. “They’re clean and sober now. I give them a path to get them to the next step of success.”
He was recruited in 2016 by Salvation Army to start the nonprofit’s culinary academy in Napa, north of San Quentin, the article noted.
“Once I started diving into the program, I realized this was the place I was supposed to be,” Fields said.
He created the Culinary Training Academy, a free 14- week hands-on program that allows adults who were once homeless or substance users to learn culinary skills via one-on-one mentoring.
About 120 students have graduated from the program so far. More than 90% have landed jobs with partnering businesses or the Salvation Army.
While they work, graduates also receive a discount for housing for two years.
As part of their training, students cook meals at the Salvation Army for more than 80 people a day.
“This is an awesome opportunity to straighten my life out and have a great future,” Ramsey said, who has been clean and sober for 12 months. “It feels great to feed people who are hungry and less fortunate.”
Fields stopped teaching at the academy last fall, but still helps with publicity support and continues to inspire students.
He runs his own catering company, Fields of Grace, and travels with some of his graduates several months of the year to prepare VIP meals at Christian musician Zach Williams’ concerts.