The Austin American-Statesman has an inspiring story about Cafe Divine, serving up delicious food and job training at St. David’s Episcopal Church:
Ray Trono might have graduated from one of the most prestigious culinary schools in the country, but he long ago ditched his chef whites for a tie-dye shirt.
That’s his official chef uniform at St. David’s Episcopal Church, where as director of hospitality ministries he oversees the church’s catering operations, which includes an in-house eatery called Cafe Divine.
Trono, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in New York, had been the sous chef at the Headliner’s Club in Austin, a private club notorious for its formality, for 10 years when he decided that he was ready to get out of traditional fine dining.
“I could do just about everything there without having to think about it. It wasn’t a situation that challenged me,” he says. After a short stint working for US Foodservice as a salesman right around the same time that he started attending St. David’s as a parishioner, the church hired him to expand the church’s food ministry.
He took over the small kitchen in the church and started making breakfast for parishioners on Sunday mornings and dinner on Tuesdays and Sundays. Within a year, he added a Thursday lunch that is open to the public. That was 12 years ago and Cafe Divine is still going strong.
His staff is mostly volunteers and students from Austin’s “Go Project,” aimed at helping young people with special needs get job training and transition to adult life. Instructor Paula Cox says her students in the program “get to learn to follow directions and be part of a team. But it’s such a gentle, kind place to get used to a work environment.”
Read full story here.