ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — Culinary students at Bright Bridge Ministries were honored Tuesday after completing the “Fresh Start” program. 

The program helps prepare those who may have battled homelessness or addiction for the workforce, by gaining skills in the kitchen.

“This is just the beginning of your journey,” said the program’s instructor chef Phil Brown. “Everybody’s going to get out of here, you’re going to get a job in a kitchen some place and move on upward and outward.”

The ceremony honored the program’s second graduating class. Members from the community were invited to taste the dishes made by the students, ranging from chicken and seafood plates, to pastries.

And while the program itself is still fresh, they’ve already seen success. 

Gerald Griffith completed the program and is using his new skills in his position as kitchen manager at Restaurant Nola. 

“Learning how to advance to something further,” said Griffith. “Something better than the streets. I hope that it inspires a lot of these guys to go into the restaurants because it’s a good future. It’s a good trade.”  

While those in the program are perfecting their craft, they’re also helping prepare and serve over 500 meals a day to those in need.

William Adams, a new graduate, says the program and Bright Bridge Ministries lifted him off the ground. He’s already working his way up in the restaurant industry. 

“It’s something I like to do,” said Adams. “I’ve had jobs that I did because I had to. This is something that I enjoy doing so it’s not really a job, it’s a passion. It’s a work of art.” 

Fresh Start hopes to welcome its next class in May.