Inmates competed in a statewide cooking contest
OCALA, Fla. (WCJB) – The Florida Department of Corrections held its first culinary arts training competition, where inmates had the chance to show off what they cook in the kitchen.
Men and women from Lowell, Madison, Lancaster and Quincy Corrections institutes showcased their best dishes in a one-on-one competition.
A starter and a dessert dish were prepared by the inmates to be judged and tasted by FDC leaders, correctional officers and kitchen professionals.
“We have 4 culinary arts skills programs. It really started with the concept of our masonry competitions that we had many years ago and just expanded into other trades that we offer to the prison population,” said the Director of Programs and rehabilitation, Patrick Mahoney. “The culinary and service industry in Florida is huge and what better way to encourage them than having competition.”
Corrections Secretary Ricky Dixon said offering competitions like this to inmates will prepare them for employment when they are released.
“The fact is that over 90% of them will eventually return to the community, so we also have a public safety role to make sure they are successful after release,” Dixon said. “If they don’t make it and come back to us, not only does that represent a cost to taxpayers, but it usually represents a casualty.”
Wendasia Gipson said the competition motivated her to seek employment in the culinary arts after her release.
“I think this experience changed my life. Being incarcerated, there are things going on here, it discourages us from what we are capable of,” Gipson said. “And being in this competition has inspired all of us as a whole, I believe.
The women of Lowell Correctional Institute won the gold trophy.
Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
Copyright 2022 WCJB. All rights reserved.