Food Service Training Program

In addition to producing delicious and nutritious food for our family-style meal customers and our corporate catering customers, we also oversee one of Pine Street Inn’s long-standing job training programs. Funded with iCater profits, the program plays an integral role in our business model. Through this program, we provide training in the food services industry to people who are either underemployed or transitioning out of homelessness.

The Food Service Training Program (FSTP) is a 24 week-long program composed of two parts: the Cafeteria Operations Training Program (COTP) and the Food Preparation Training Program (FPTP). There are six enrollments per annum with groups of 12-18 individuals in each cohort. Following an interview process, accepted students complete a 2-day orientation before beginning the program, thus mirroring a real world work environment.

Read more about the program below!

Seamus’ Story

Watch this video to hear from one of our FSTP trainees.


A COTP trainee working in the Pine Street Café

A COTP trainee working in the Pine Street Café

Cafeteria Operations Training Program – Tier 1

COTP is the first tier of the program, lasting a total of 8 weeks. It includes time in the classroom and time in the lab (Pine Street Inn café). In the lab, trainees are introduced to basic kitchen skills, including knife skills, salad bar and cold food preparations, meats and deli set up and operation, customer service, and more. Classroom lectures cover information including food safety, cleaning and sanitizing, controlling time and temperature, as well as prepare students for their ServSafe exam. Trainees also participate in weekly classes lead by a certified volunteer from The Engaged Mindfulness Institute. During this class they learn mindfulness techniques and emotional resilience tools that help to prepare them for the fast-paced environment in the iCater kitchen and their personal lives.
COTP is held Monday through Friday from 9am to 3:30pm. Trainees receive a weekly stipend for the time they spend in the lab. Individuals who successfully complete COTP move into FPTP.

Food Preparation Training Program – Tier 2

FPTP is the second tier of the program, duration of 16 weeks. Trainees move into the iCater main commissary kitchen, where they help with the preparation of our family style meals and corporate catering. iCater is open and operational 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year and therefore trainees might arrive as early as 5:30am or work as late as 7pm. They are scheduled only 8 hours per day, with two consecutive days off, and receive minimum wage for production time. Additionally, they have 8 class sessions (a total of 16 hours) that are dedicated to the continuation of preparation for the ServSafe exam. At the end of FPTP, trainees take the ServSafe examination and receive their certification.

Catering Internship

Following FPTP, two trainees per cohort are selected for the Catering Internship. These trainees work directly with the Sous Chef and Executive Chef on daily scheduled corporate catering events. These trainees are supervised and, while opportunities exist for learning, they are expected to function in more of a production capacity. The catering internship comes with an incentive to continue the training program and an increase in the hourly wage.

Visiting Chef Series


Sodexo Chef Zach Julian with COTP trainees after a culinary demonstration

As a complement to classroom time and hands-on experience in the staff café during COTP, the Visiting Chef Series provides the trainees with the opportunity to learn from professional chefs who give live culinary demonstrations. A few of our participating chefs include Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery and Myers+Chang, Andy Husbands of Tremont 647 and Sister Sorel, Hyatt Regency and Lenox Hotel chefs, as well as various chefs from Legal Sea Foods and Sodexo. For each demonstration, the visiting chef selects the recipe they would like to create for the trainees. Every demonstration is different, as each chef brings their own style and recipe to the table. In addition, every month a Legal Sea Foods front of the house manager visits to provide a demonstration on hospitality. These topics vary, but include topics such as interview tips, customer service skills, and proper table settings.

Learn more about the Visiting Chef Series here!