external arrow pointing right logo mark logo full version logo in single color arrow pointing down \ facebook logo instagram logo twitter logo flicker logo search icon navigation expand button close

Welcome to Germaine’s Kitchen Café!

Posted by | Jon Wirtis, Executive Chef and Lead Instructor of Germaine's Kitchen and Café

Welcome to Germaine’s Kitchen Café, a Gluten Free Culinary Arts program of Catholic Charities Oregon. Here, our program delivers a variety of essential skills helping our students and participants on a path to success in a professional kitchen or foodservice operation. Our program offers in-class instruction on the fundamentals and foundations of cooking along with the very important job/life skills and hands-on learning in just 16 weeks.

Our program is pace based to accommodate all the different learning styles, abilities and practices of our students, allowing them to grow their skill sets and giving them confidence to reach personal goals.

The focus is on entry-level training designed to deliver our students the basic understanding and competencies of cooking and/or baking and life skills.  We are building job readiness, the sensory awareness and teamwork needed to work with confidence and professionalism in a commercial kitchen or a related field.

The program has been developed in collaboration with Catalyst Kitchen to ensure that students meet the needs and standards of today’s industry. At Germaine’s Kitchen Café, we encourage learning, growth, and real-life experiences to unlock their potential. With small class sizes, we offer focused, individualized attention from professional chef/instructors and faculty.


  • A 4-tiered approach encompassing classroom studies and instruction, expanded curriculum, and hands-on lab practice offers a comprehensive culinary education in the short period of time of 16 weeks.
  • Our partnerships:
    • Community Access Services (CAS) is a private nonprofit organization that provides residential, community, and employment services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who live and work in our community. Serving Oregonians for more than 30 years, Community Access Services is a trusted service provider dedicated to the advocacy of individuals living with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
    • Catalyst Kitchens helps to launch and growfoodservice job training social enterprises that help people develop skills for a life-changing career. They’ve worked with over 150 organizations around the world and support a network of over 80 members transforming lives in their communities.

Since 2011, Catalyst Kitchens members have collectively placed over 14,000 individuals with barriers to employment in jobs.

  • 80% placement after graduation
  • 67% retention rate after 1-year employment
  • A network of hundreds of restaurants, hotels, resorts, and healthcare facilities all with the need of well-trained entry level graduates to hire.
  • Our talented culinary staff and our job/life skills coaches and instructors bring with them over 50 years of experience providing the skill development and continued lifelong support and career guidance.
  • Our newly remodeled commercial kitchen allows our students an enjoyable atmosphere and classroom laboratory setting in which to cook, learn and grow.
  • Current and future “real life” opportunities will be offered that allow students to practice their skills. Professional experiences of teamwork, collaboration, critical thinking, and decision making will allow our students to benefit from our Social Enterprise ventures of:
    • Fresh made meals and dining services as well as packaged meals for low-income senior housing
    • Gluten Free mail order subscription meal service – P.B.S. (Pasta, Bread & Soup, Stew, Salad and Sandwiches)
    • Live on-campus gluten free café offering continued skill development and employment opportunities.
    • Catering operations offering small to large party and events around our community
    • Incubator kitchen and business planning to develop and build that sense of ownership
  • Building strong community partners in one of the nation’s leading culinary community offers our graduates opportunities to meet and work with some of the finest restauranteurs and culinarians.
  • Oregon Food Handler Certification training and education in proper food handling giving the students some of the most important insight into the safety and sanitation of the foodservice industry and earning an Oregon Food Handler Certification
  • Our campus offers other great resources which include internet access & free WiFi, a quiet student space for learning and studying, continued educational coaching and skill development at the request of the student.
  • Mock interviews are conducted during the training period to strengthen presentation skills for the actual interview process.

OBJECTIVES & OUTCOMES: Our 500+ hour, Grand Certificate Program gets students ready for those entry-level culinary positions. They will bring along the fundamentals and foundations of hands-on practical skills, and job readiness and life skills to the foodservice industry. This Certificate Program will provide the students the opportunity to learn and demonstrate:

  • The understanding and principles of food identification and nutrition.
  • The knowledge, familiarity, and benefits of Gluten free food.
  • The professional skills used in food preparation and service.
  • The proper use and maintenance of professional knives, hand tools, and commercial kitchen equipment.
  • Maneuvering and the familiarization of the layout and workflow of professional kitchens and restaurants.
  • An understanding of culinary math using measurements of weight and volume and recipe conversions.
  • An appreciation for the history, culture, and international diversity of the culinary arts.
  • Strong transferrable skills, such as time management, teamwork, and customer services, to help with any other career path the students want to explore
  • The building blocks and skills as a member of a team.
  • How to communicate accurately and effectively.
  • A personal sense of professionalism necessary for working successfully in the foodservice and hospitality industry.
  • Proper food handling, storage, safety and sanitation in order to earn a food handler safety certification.

Our Core Competencies and Culinary Commandments:

  1. Attendance: Demonstrate commitment through punctuality and dependable, consistent participation
  2. Customer Service: Be a team player who treats customers and coworkers with respect and serves with enthusiasm
  3. Time Management: Manage time wisely, know your daily schedule, focus on assigned tasks
  4. Personal Responsibility and Being Coachable: Take leadership within your work, ask relevant questions, willingly seek and accept feedback, take initiative
  5. Teamwork: Lead and support teamwork, value diversity, express opinions appropriately
  6. Food Safety: Pass food handler’s test, maintain sanitary kitchen practices, know proper food storage and minimize food waste
  7. Culinary Knowledge and Skills: Understanding of basic terms and techniques, basic ingredients and products, ability to remember and replicate skills
  8. Kitchen Math: Show a firm understanding of kitchen weights, measuring, and recipe adjustments
  9. Knife Skills: Demonstrate proper safety and appropriate speed and form
  10. Equipment Knowledge: Identify, maintain and safely use all standard chef tools and equipment

We highly recommend a personal visit to our campus. We invite you to schedule an in-class observation and a tour of the school, as there is no substitute for meeting our Chefs and Mentors and Coaches, to experience their instructional style up close and personal and speaking openly with students. Please contact Germaine’s Kitchen Café at Catholic Charities for more information about our program.

Learn more about our
Food Services

As hunger and poverty in Oregon continue to rise, our Food Services program partners with local organizations to provide hot meals for those who are unsheltered and offers its own culinary training to help those experiencing barriers to employment regain their self-sufficiency and stability.
Learn More icon-link-arrow