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Culinary Arts training program helps New Yorkers in need get a new chance at life

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NEW YORK—They all have their own story.

But the one thing they have in common is a love for cooking and a need for a second chance.

"My back story has to do with addiction. I was definitely addicted to drugs for along time," Richardson said.

It wasn’t until he recovered from his drug habit that JC Richardson was introduced to the Culinary Arts Training Program run by the nonprofit, Project Renewal.

"This program has just taught me to have more confidence in myself. When you're using or things like that you don’t really believe that you can do anything but that," Richardson explained.

The job training and placement program provides six months of classroom and internship training in the food service industry.

It helps people who are homeless, out of prison or rehab, even veterans. All who are in need of a job – and a new start.

"It just warms your heart to know that you’re running a program that really does do what we say we do, put people back to work again," Barbara Hughes, who has been with the program from the beginning, said.

People like Christopher Huang, who became addicted to drugs during college.

He has since gone through the culinary arts program and is now the sous chef at Del Posto restaurant in downtown Manhattan.

"I think about that time period of my life where I came from to where I am now sitting in this beautiful restaurant. And that’s one of the things for me to get where I am today, there was a lot of hard work," Huang said.

Huang says he returns every so often to the kitchen where he started, giving hope to those currently in the program.

And I got a lesson in making split pea soup.

When asked what he would tell someone else in a similar situation, Romell Willis answered.

"Never forget what it was to be in a cell. Never forget what it took for you to get here," Willis said.

For more on the Culinary Arts Training Program, click here.

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