WomenCook! 2015 Menu Preview

Women's 11th Annual WomenCook! - Dining for a Difference Event

Menu Preview

Join Work Options for Women on April 27, 2015 for a one-of-a-kind menu prepared by some of Denver’s most renowned female chefs. Here is a sneak peak of some of the participating chefs and dishes they are preparing for this charitable event.

Letisha Steele
WaterCourse Bakery
All Gluten Free and Vegan
Lemon Rosemary Bars
Chocolate Eclair Cakes
Strawberry Rhubarb Tarts
Mary Nguyen
Parallel Seventeen and
Olive & Finch
Bulgogi Beef Lettuce Wraps, Pickled Vegetables and Granny Smith Apples
Dana Rodriguez
Work & Class
Citrus-Halibut Ceviche with avocado mousse and tortilla chip
Aniedra Nichols
Elway’s Cherry Creek
Roasted Beet “Tartare”, Carrot Top Pesto, Grilled Bread Crostini
Jennifer Jasinski
Rioja, Euclid Hall, Bistro Vendôme and Stoic & Genuine
Pea and Ramp Risotto
Salmon Tartare
Lisa Bailey
D Bar
Avocado Fondue with Buttery Brioche Crouton

WomenCook Tickets

Temple Emanuel
51 Grape Street, Denver CO 80220
Monday, April 27, 2015
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.


100% of the funds raised at WomenCook! 2015 goes toward helping Work Options for Women with their mission to help impoverished women gain the skills and confidence they need to work their way out of poverty and become gainfully and permanently employed in the food service industry.


Work Options for Women: Winter Newsletter

Work Options for Women Newsletter

Cafe United

View of Cafe United

Work Options for Women (WOW) opened its third training site in October 2014. The café is located at the new Mile High United Way Morgridge Center for Community Change, at Park Avenue and California Street in the Curtis Park neighborhood right here in Denver. At Cafe United, we serve coffee, breakfast and lunch from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. To view the full menu, visit cafeunited.com.

Signature Salads

Cafe United’s Signature Salads



At Cafe United, WOW is able to offer students a higher level of training including barista, catering, and supervisory skills training. By obtaining these additional skill sets, and by having real-life experience in these roles, WOW students will become more competitive in the food service industry and seek jobs that pay a higher wage.
Also, 100% of the proceeds from your purchase will benefit Work Options for Women’s mission to help impoverished women gain the skills and confidence they need to work their way out of poverty and become gainfully and permanently employed in the food service industry.
Support Cafe United on Facebook. Go to http://www.facebook.com/CafeUnitedDenver and click the like button to get the latest news from Cafe United right to your news-feed.

Carrie Shores

Chef Carrie Shores

 Welcome to WOW Chef Carrie Shores
Before becoming the Chef Manager at Cafe Options this past November, Chef Carrie was the executive chef at Table 6 on E 6th Ave and Corona Street in Denver, Colorado.
As the executive chef at Table 6, Chef Carrie earned many accolades, including being admitted into the Denver Five’s exclusive lineup of Colorado’s most-extraordinary chefs of 2014. Chef Carrie is best known for her love of farm-to-table cuisine. In a recent interview with Westword she said, “Let’s focus on real food and real ingredients”, expressing her dislike of fake or imitation foods.
Chef Carrie spent many hours in the WOW kitchen as a volunteer before joining the WOW team, teaching unemployed and disadvantaged women culinary skills. Her mantra “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” rings in the minds of WOW’s students learning in our kitchens, her new home. Work Options for Women is very lucky to have her.
Hang out with Chef Carrie on April 7, 2015 for Work Options for Women’s April Cooking Class at Cafe Options. Chef Carrie will be leading the class, demonstrating some of her favorite recipes and answering your questions.
For more information about Cooking Classes at Cafe Options, visit workoptions.org/cookingclasses.

2014 Graduates

Some of the WOW graduating class of Fall 2014

Congratulations Fall 2014 Graduates
This past October, Work Options for Women honored sixteen students who have completed WOW’s Culinary Job Skills Training program and have been employed for at least three months. Each graduate was presented with an official Work Options for Women Graduation certificate and a brand new chef’s knife to get them started on their new career in the food service industry.
We could not be more proud of all our graduates. They have worked hard to overcome past barriers to employment and to learn culinary and job skills like: Kitchen Math, ServSafe and Knife Skills. With their new skills, confidence and chef’s knives, these graduates are fully equipped to be successful in gaining self-sufficiency.
After graduation, WOW graduates have the opportunity to continue their culinary education at WOW by attending Advanced Culinary & Supervisor Skills Training Courses. These courses are designed to help students become more competitive in the food service industry and seek jobs with higher wages and opportunities for advancement.

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In Retrospect: Employed Student Recalls Training

Ever since Pilar* obtained employment with a health care facility, she has been in constant contact with Kassi, one of our caseworkers. They write to each other via email every week, and Kassi said that in each email, Pilar’s words brim with gratitude and an understanding that she accomplished something amazing.

Kassi had a chance to ask Pilar some more questions about her time at Work Options for Women, especially in light of her recent hire and completion of the program. The biggest challenge WOW helped Pilar overcome was her fear of knives. Plus, she learned how to take instruction better. Pilar has plans to start taking an English class to improve her knowledge of the language, and she wants to continue learning more about working in a kitchen.

Do you remember what your first day was like at WOW? What do you think of how you felt about that day now?

October 14, 2013, was my first day. I was I little scared because I didn’t know what to expect for the program and also my English is limited. But now when I look back on the first day I am very happy that I got it done.

What were some of your biggest challenges at WOW? How did you get through them?

The biggest challenge is to be able to work with kitchen knife. I have always had a fear of them but Chef Jeff (Koch) helped me work with it. Chef Jeff help me get through the first day of getting knife training and he noticed that when I had the knife in my hand I was shaking. He told me not to be scared about the knife because it was just another utensil in the kitchen.

What are the most important things you learned while you were at WOW?

To feel confident with myself and to able to work in that environment and getting to know the skills to work in the kitchen.

As you were nearing the end of your training, what kinds of differences did you see in yourself?

I saw better confidence in myself to be able to work in the kitchen. I am able to work with a kitchen knife and I don’t feel scared of them.

Did your family or your friends notice a change as well?

My family has noticed a change — how I don’t have fear of knives and that I am able to see them and use them without shaking.

What was the process of finding a job like?

I was able to find work as soon as I finished the program.

How did you feel once you did obtain a job?

I felt very excited and confident with the job because the WOW program gave me the skills and confidence that I need to work in the kitchen.

What are your favorite parts about your new job?

That I am getting more experience in the kitchen. It is similar to the WOW kitchen.

What is one thing you absolutely want people to know about your experience — your time at WOW, your new job, or your life in general?

What I would like the people to know that this a very good program because they help you to gain confidence to work, to develop the skills you need to work in the kitchen.

Want to apply to become a WOW student? For more information about the program or for information about eligibility, call 720-944-3393 or e-mail katie@workoptions.org.

*This name has been changed.

Why WOW on #COGivesDay?

Tomorrow is Colorado Gives Day — a 24-hour period of fundraising in Colorado, a chance to “give where you live.” Starting at midnight tonight, there are no processing fees, so 100% of your donation through the Colorado Gives Day website goes right back to the nonprofit of your choice.

With thousands of nonprofits participating in the state’s largest fundraiser, here are five reasons why you should donate to Work Options for Women on #COGivesDay:

1. We enable students to change their lives. We give our students resources and training they can use to become permanently and gainfully employed in the food service industry. Many of our students have not completed high school. Some were homeless when they began the program, and some have a criminal background. The decision and determination to work hard is in their hands.

2. We are innovative. We are constantly evaluating our program to see how we can better serve our students. For example, we recently streamlined our case management aspect of the program, so that now students work with the same case manager throughout their time with WOW.  Additionally, we have begun to develop our advanced culinary and supervisory skills training program for WOW graduates who want to further their skills.

3. We build on past success. In 2011, we placed 25 students in employment. That number jumped to 63 in 2012 — a 250% increase over the prior year. With a month still to go, we have helped 51 students find employment in the food service industry in 2013, with six students currently in the job-search phase of their training. Also this year, we celebrated two of our largest graduating classes in April and October. A WOW graduate is a student who has not only completed training, but also has maintained employment for at least three months.

4. We provide real-world training. Students begin working in a fast-paced, high-pressure kitchen environment right from Day 1. Our chef instructors expect the same traits from our students that any employer would: getting to work on time and ready to go, having a good attitude, working safely and cleanly, working well with a team, communicating well and asking good questions.

5. We are always there for our students. Even after they graduate. We provide follow-up services to our students three months, six months, and 12 months after they have completed the program. But they also can utilize our case managers even after they have found employment.

Donate to Work Options for Women here on Colorado Gives Day.

Tell your Twitter followers you’re supporting Work Options for Women on #COGivesDay.

Perspectives: Reflecting on a Snowy Commute

Laurie Peterson, Work Options for Women’s development director, provides some insight in today’s post.

How many of us became frustrated with the commute yesterday?  Maybe spewed profanity, signaled a hand, or became increasingly upset with a situation that was completely out of our control?

It made me think about the upcoming season — grumpy people, delayed flights, holiday traffic, too many “to-dos” with not enough time…a holly, jolly time of the year that becomes more stressful than enjoyable.  When did we become so surly, cynical, and negative?  When did we speed up on the highway to block someone from merging?  When did we become so hurried that 16 items in the express line is enough to put us in a bad mood for the rest of the day?  When did we forget to be truly thankful for what we have?

Here is some perspective from a student from the Work Options for Women program:

After serving in two Gulf Wars, I found myself back in Colorado — homeless and unemployed.  Reaching out to Veterans Affairs, I learned that they would not help me until I got a job — I couldn’t get a job if I didn’t have housing.  I started to drink.  My father was a drunk, and it seemed like the logical choice at a low time in my life.  The drinking helped me not have to think of my problems…but things just got worse.  My significant other lost a son due to a gang fight here in Denver.  We adopted two grandkids whose parents were both in jail.  Then, my significant other was involved in a horrific car accident becoming an amputee.

A caseworker referred me to the Work Options for Women culinary training program.  I had cooked some in the Navy, so this seemed like a good option for me.  I started the program and worked hard.  I learned everything I could.  After my sixteen-week training program, I found a job, a job that I still have today.  After years of unemployment and homelessness, Work Options for Women gave me the support I needed at a very tough time in my life.  Today, I am happy, confident, and working hard to become promoted in the kitchen.  Thank you for helping me get on the right path — I am so thankful for your program and the opportunity to get back on my feet.

This student is one of the most positive people I have ever met; not once did she complain or blame others for her situation. She felt that the challenges she had been dealt only had made her a stronger person.

“Gratitude is a constant attitude of thankfulness and appreciation for life as it unfolds.  Living in the moment, we are open to the abundance around us and within us.  We express appreciation freely.  We contemplate the richness of our life.  In life’s trials, we seek to understand, to accept, to learn.  Gratitude is a continual celebration of life.”
(Author Unknown)

So next time you are stuck in traffic, waiting in line, or frustrating with life, think about what you are thankful for.

WOW Honors Fall 2013 Graduates

Immediate chills. Instant tears. And, even more simply, complete happiness and an overwhelming sense of achievement.

Those in the audience at the Episcopal Church of St. Peter and St. Mary last week experienced all of that and more.

Work Options for Women’s fall 2013 graduation honored 23 students who completed our training and have been employed for at least three months. They proudly marched up the aisle to a roaring round of applause and cheers. Family, friends, case workers, chefs, teachers and the whole WOW staff were on hand for probably the biggest celebration in Denver Metro that night.

The Work Options for Women graduating class of Fall 2013.

Some members of the Work Options for Women graduating class of Fall 2013.

I sat in the audience as a soon-to-be member of the WOW staff as the new development and events coordinator. My supervisor Laurie Peterson, WOW’s director of development, invited me to the graduation not only so I could meet some of my future coworkers, but also see what the conclusion of WOW training for students looked like. And I was floored.

Just seeing the group of women and men walking into the chapel, surrounded by those who love and support them, solidified for me that I would be joining a really great, empowering family — one that comprises WOW staff, students and grads.

Each graduate was introduced by members of the staff and had some story told about their life before WOW, their time with our program and where they are currently employed. Among the speakers were Courtney Gross, case management supervisor; Julie Stone, director of operations; Craig Dixon, chef manager; and Kassi Newman, case manager. After each introduction, there was a swell of cheering, encouraged by the speakers. And each graduate received their diploma and a gift from WOW — a fresh set of kitchen knives.

With every story, the deep-down feeling I had — that I was witnessing something incredibly special — only grew. For many, this was their first graduation. You could tell they were truly proud of this moment. It was humbling to have been there to see their joy and accomplishments.

WOW staff also were acknowledged, along with the volunteers who make our program successful. It takes a village, after all. In particular, Kay Johnson, who has been teaching kitchen math to WOW students since January, was recognized for her passion for educating, her patience and energy in the classroom, and her ability to see the potential in every student.

Following the ceremony, graduates and their guests were invited to a dinner in the church’s hall. The best part, though, was the cake current students created for the fall 2013 graduates and decorated with sayings of encouragement like “Keep going!” and “Way to go!”

A sweet way to end the night for everyone involved.

WOW holds graduation every spring and fall for eligible students. Keep checking back for more inspiring updates from Work Options for Women.

Meet Jasmine!

Not many of us are forced to make a life-or-death decision in our lifetimes, but Jasmine had to do just that. The mother of four had been in an abusive relationship since she married at age 14 and knew that if she did not leave her husband soon, his abuse would eventually lead to her death. Jasmine matter-of-factly states, “I had to leave or I was going to die.” Fearing for her life, she made the difficult decision to leave the marriage and fled with nothing more than her four children and $200 she had taken from her husband. That money did not last long – 2 nights in a hotel to be exact – and Jasmine soon found herself in various homeless shelters around the Denver area. Though she wanted to work to support her family, Jasmine had been a stay-at-home mom for 14 years and lacked the work experience and skills necessary to find a decent paying job.

After expressing her frustrations to her TANF manager, Jasmine was asked a simple but important question: what do you like to do. Jasmine said she liked to cook, a skill she picked up from her own kitchen while preparing family meals. Recognizing that Jasmine would be a perfect fit for WOW, her TANF manager suggested she attend an orientation to learn more about the program.

When Jasmine joined the WOW program, she faced many obstacles in her life. She still lacked stable housing and childcare, and her children were not enrolled in school. Her WOW Case Manager – Courtney – saw her determination and did what she could to assist her. Courtney partnered with Jasmine to secure housing and even helped her find furniture! She directed Jasmine to childcare options and facilitated registering her children in school.

Once Jasmine’s home life was more stable, she was able to focus on completing and excelling in the WOW program. Proving to be adept and eager, Jasmine emerged as a leader in the kitchen. Completing 11 weeks in the program, Jasmine began a 4-week internship at Café Options. With this additional experience under her belt, she began the job search in the WOW Career Center. Submitting many applications and resumes with no interviews, Jasmine was a bit discouraged. However, her determination kept her going and she soon had multiple interviews, all of which she aced – Jasmine was offered 3 jobs in one day!

In less than a year, Jasmine has moved from a dependent, abusive relationship to an employed, independent woman. She says, “I have grown to be self-sufficient and a positive single mother for my children.” Her children are proud of her and so are we. We know Jasmine will go far – she already has aspirations of owning and operating her own Latin/Caribbean style food truck. We wish Jasmine the best as she undertakes a new career and a new life.