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- 2014 - February - 17th -

Monday Menu: Clara's at the Cathedral

By Max Marbut, Staff Writer

Preparing people for success and offering a Downtown dining option are the concepts that drive “Clara’s at the Cathedral,” the Friday lunch buffet at St. John’s Cathedral along East Church Street.

Soup, salad, a varying menu of entrees, side dishes and desserts are featured each week and served buffet-style.

The weekly midday repast began in 2007, four years after the Clara White Mission established its culinary training program. The 20-week curriculum teaches students the history of cooking, basic food preparation, commercial cooking and service and menu development and catering skills.

The training is certified by the Florida Department of Education Commission for Independent Education.

More than 700 students have graduated from the training program. Many continued their education at First Coast Technical Institute in St. Augustine or at Florida State College at Jacksonville.

“And 78 percent of them are in the workforce,” said Clara White Mission CEO and President Ju’Coby Pittman.

“They learn the front of the house and the back of the house — all the skills they need to work in a restaurant,” she said. “When someone graduates from our program, they are ready for their life.”

A garden and a full-fledged farm have grown out of the culinary program. The mission has a small urban garden at its location along Ashley Street and operates White Harvest Farm along Moncrief Road.

“We teach our students how to cook and how to grow the food,” said Pittman.

The garden provides vegetables and herbs used in the mission’s feeding program. The 11.5-acre farm operation has a contract with Sysco Jacksonville Inc. to provide fresh cabbage and collard greens to the restaurant supply and provisions company.

The next step is a retail outlet for the fresh produce and herbs.

“We plan to open a farmer’s market in the spring,” Pittman said.

Clara’s at the Cathedral serves from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. each Friday. The week’s menu is published Wednesdays at clarawhitemission.org.

mmarbut@baileypub.com

(904) 356-2466

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