The DOE Fund holds tasting event through their chef-in-training program in Manhattan

MANHATTAN (WABC) -- A program in the city is giving ex-cons and homeless people a second chance at life.

It is a chef-in-training program and Wednesday night some of them got to display their talents at a fancy tasting event in Manhattan.

Chef Justin Fertitta is passing his skills on. A dining room full of people waited for a dinner Wednesday night, so good it will change lives. Not theirs, but the people preparing it.

"I've been given a second chance, I have a very heavy drug history use, it's allowing me to use my mind differently, think a little differently," said Gil Colengelo, chef-in-training.

Many of the people in the kitchen served time in prison and are trying, with the help of The DOE Fund, to get their lives back on track. You think this is important to Jessica?

"My oldest is 21, 20, 19," said Jessica Vargas, chef-in-training.

She has eight children and recently got out of prison.

"Hopefully, this will better my future and I'll have better chances," Vargas said.

The DOE Fund training program is different than others.

How many restaurants would you say there are in New York City? There are 45,000 restaurants in the five boroughs, 25,000 in Manhattan alone, and many of those restaurants need people who know their way around a kitchen and The DOE Fund provides a map.

"As long as our guys have the skills, the restaurants, the owners, the chefs are willing to give them a chance," said John Power, The DOE Fund.

"I've had a lot of second chances in my life, a lot of third chances. For me, it's a chance to share my passion with someone who couldn't actually afford going to culinary school," Chef Justin Fertitta said.

The group created five courses served at The Shakespeare, a restaurant on East 39th Street. How was it? It couldn't have been better.

"Better future, better job," Vargas said.
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