We are a 501(c)(3) organization providing opportunities for sustainable change to detainees of the Cook County Jail, through culinary, fine arts and life skills training and reinforcing the value of work and personal responsibility.

I try to teach them manners, teamwork, love of life, and simplicity
— Bruno Abate

Our Mission

Recipe for Change is a program designed to give dignity and opportunity to the inmates of Cook County Jail through an introduction to healthy food, good nutrition and the art of quality cooking. More than in a traditional cooking class, these students, who happen to be detainees, are challenged to meet the expectations of the best and most rigorous culinary arts school.  Behavioral expectations in the kitchen and on their dedicated cellblock are high.  During each session, spanning three months, aside from the finer points of cuisine, they learn the importance of teamwork, focus and accountability.  They are expected to memorize intricate recipes and demonstrate knowledge of kitchen safety protocols along with proper serving and table manners. Chef Bruno’s approach to culinary arts is one that instills the same discipline and appreciation of food that he himself embodies and displays in his restaurant.

Chef Bruno is constantly aware that most inmates have had a hard time in the past, being incarcerated they have little in the way of a present, so he wants to help them create a future to which they can look forward. Recipe for Change hopes to give inmates a sense of work ethic, patience and the motivation to be a better person when they are back outside in the world. Whether, after release, the graduates of the program choose to seek a position in food service or another field they will have gained the confidence necessary to secure employment and they will have the skills to go home and cook a meal for their family and be a model for their children, hopefully teaching them to not end up in the same system. A program such as Recipe for Change gives a purpose to the time served by those in the criminal justice system instead of just storing these men until they go back into society with the same frustrations that put them into the system in the first place. 

Short Term:

Recipe for Change is in the process of creating a more dedicated school environment in the basement of Division XI at Cook County Jail. More and better equipment, an increase in work stations and being able to hire teaching assistants would not only allow for larger classes but ideally will lead to the ability to offer valid certification that would enhance employability.    

Long Term:

Recipe for Change is developing plans to establish a community based facility outside where released graduates of the program could further hone their skills while re-assimilating into society. This kitchen, which would produce food products as well as service an on-site restaurant could make the program self-sustaining while providing an invaluable safe haven transition space for the ex-convicts, guaranteeing them a successful transition and greatly reducing any chance of recidivism.