November 16, 2022
FDC Celebrates Success of Inaugural Statewide Inmate Culinary Competition
Culinary competition brought inmate culinary teams from separate institutions, guest judges and prison administrators together to showcase employability skills and program success
OCALA, Fla. — The Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) proudly hosted the 2022 Culinary Arts Training Competition at Lowell CI. Four inmate-participants from four separate institutions were selected by their own classes to demonstrate the best of their culinary skills and creative abilities while competing on behalf of their institution’s culinary certification programs.
“I am exceptionally proud of our staff for arranging this competition and pleased to see the participants showcasing a valuable workforce skill in front of industry professionals,” said FDC Secretary Ricky Dixon. “Considering most inmates in Florida will be released, it is imperative to public safety to provide them with skills and resources needed to succeed. Great job to all involved.”
Local leadership from each respective institution and statewide leadership attended alongside four industry recognized guest judges with backgrounds in the education of culinary arts and hospitality. Each team showcased their preparation and presentation of a unique meal and dessert which were scored based on several factors.
“We were immediately intrigued and interested in the opportunity to participate as judges and support this great competition,” saidJacqui Pressinger CPC, Director of Strategic Partnerships for the American Culinary Federation Inc. “Obtaining these important skills and understanding the value of teamwork in the food service industry will allow these participants a great opportunity to engage with employers and find a rewarding career within the industry.”
“This competition really challenges the perception of daily life in prison,” said Antonio Murillo, Director of Operations for BJ’s Restaurants, Inc. “These culinary arts programs are an essential tool for preparing these individuals for the work force immediately upon their release and we were so impressed the entire duration of the event, congratulations to all the teams.”
“Developing the skills shown today put these team members in a unique position to swiftly enter the workforce upon release,” said Turdurra Fulbright, General Manager of BJ’s Restaurant in Daytona Beach. “Already knowing the basics of sanitation, temperature and safety precautions allows managers to devote early training to style rather than technique. We look forward to seeing what the future holds for these competitors in the food service industry!”
“The innovation among the participants is just incredible,” said Chef Ryan Manning, Owner of Manning Group Consulting Firm, MX Taco Restaurant in Orlando and Cookies & Cream in Lake Mary. “All four teams came in with limited resources requiring them to rely heavily on their training, skillset and each other to create something they would all be proud of. The experience was remarkable, and I look forward to further engagement with the program.”
Lowell CI’s (Ocala) culinary team won the competition. In a close match, Quincy Annex (Quincy) won second place only trailing by fractions of a point. Madison CI (Madison) and Lancaster CI (Trenton) placed third and fourth place.
Career and Technical Education programs such as culinary arts provide inmates with training opportunities to assist them with obtaining gainful employment upon release, leading to a successful re-entry into their local communities. The statewide culinary arts competition successfully reinforced the participant’s ability to seek and receive feedback and constructive criticism, engage in a healthy activity, and creatively express oneself within a set of rules and expectations.
Short FDC video of event:FDC Culinary Event 2022
FDC photos of the event: FDC Culinary Competition Photos
Prior media coverage:
- Inmates face off in state culinary arts competition – Alexa Herrera/WUFT
- Inmates competed in statewide culinary competition – Alexus Goings/WCJB
- Capitol Update – Florida Channel (starts at 23:46)
As Florida's largest state agency, and the third largest state prison system in the country, FDC employs 24,000 members, incarcerates 80,000 inmates and supervises nearly 146,000 offenders in the community.