Emmanuel’s Journey from Court to Culinary Dreams

Emmanuel’s Journey from Court to Culinary Dreams


It’s Emmanuel’s love for food and helping his community that pushes his dreams forward. 

As a kid, he watched his grandma always cook, giving out plates to people in the community with rice, beans and chicken. People would stop by for a plate of food, and along the way, Emmanuel knew he wanted to do something similar. 

When Emmanuel first came to Fortune through our new Supervised Release program (SRP) in September 2022. Supervised Release is a court-ordered program that provides community-based supervision and support for individuals with pending cases in NYC. 

At the SRP community center in the Bronx, where Emmanuel would do his monthly check-ins, he started participating in Employment Services before learning about the culinary arts programming in Queens.  

Through a partnership with Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP), students from Fortune can receive culinary instruction and earn their ServSafe certification. 

The 5-week program prepares students for their NYC Food Protection Certification exam and shows them different cooking techniques and career options. The course focuses on the essential skills needed, like knife handling, baking and more. Often, students work with techniques or cuisines they never have before. However, Emmanuel was up for the challenge and was open to different cooking styles. 

At the end of the course, Emmanuel earned his ServSafe certification and is now working towards getting his Food Handlers License. In the meantime, he started an internship at The Entrepreneur Space in Queens. As a culinary associate, Emmanuel ensures all kitchen spaces are clean and ready for clients to begin working in.  

“Once I come in, I’m in there taking the temperature logs and stuff like that. We’re making sure all the fridges and freezers are at the right temperatures. To sum it up, storage files, making sure all the bathrooms are clean, garbage.” 

Once clients start working in the kitchens, Emmanuel and the other culinary associates offer assistance. For example, Emmanuel has helped with bottling hot sauce, baking cookies, portioning chicken and making dumplings. 

Along with learning to cook and getting certified, Emmanual has a big passion for growing food. At Brook Park in the Bronx, he grows produce and gives back to his community. 

“I really want to be a chef; that's really what I'm going for. But it's more than being a chef, to be honest. The joy is just giving back to people. I already work, but on the side, I do agriculture. I grow my own vegetables and fruits already at Brook Park, the youth farm, or local community gardens. So we already give back to the community and different food pantries. That's the type of work I love and want to get more into."

Since growing his produce, he’s seen how the treatment of the earth affects people’s access to good food. He would like others to recognize how living more sustainably helps everyone and encourages his friends and family to take better care of our planet. 

“It’s not going to happen right away, but it’s things that we got to work on. [Litter and pollution] all go somewhere. It goes to the rivers; it goes to the sewer. It ends up in a garden and our produce. So, when you deal with certain stuff like that, soil and dirt, that type of environment, you value the little things.” 

Emmanuel’s ultimate goal as a chef is to grow and cook his produce, creating a sustainable practice of giving back to the earth and his community simultaneously. He wishes more places promoted the same methods. 

“I just want to grow my own things. Because it’s just a whole bunch of stuff going on: artificial, GMOs, all this other stuff… I don’t condone those shortcuts. I want things done as they should be and have to take that time. And actually, it is an art, you see? But people try to find a way around it with little shortcuts. I’m totally not that.” 

Along with his Food Handler’s License, Emmanuel wants to start his own business. He wants to use his own fresh and organic produce in his cooking and go to green markets to find the best of the season. He admits, though, he’s not quite there yet. Instead, he has a lot of goals lined up, like possibly going back to college, as well as being open to any opportunities that come his way.

“I see myself waking up every other day and going to work, cooking, enjoying that, doing different things. But later on, I want to get into a deeper feel, probably infusing things and doing other stuff. But that comes later on. I'm not jumping to conclusions. There's so much out there with cooking, is what I'm saying.”

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