Fresh Start is Taking a Break

Our board is working to redesign Fresh Start to work more effectively for our students. In the meantime, if you have questions, please direct them to Co-Chairs Vicky Stifter and Deborah Chenoweth at:


Celebrate June 9 Graduation at Mt. View Orchards

Prettiest orchard in the valley? Maybe so, and you’re invited to join us there for graduation on June 9. Just click on the link to the right, and you will be whisked right away to a place you can purchase tickets, with all the directions and information you will need for the event.

And if you can’t join us, you can still click on the ticket link, and make a contribution to our program, which is most appreciated. Thank you!

Get tickets for First Anniversary Graduation Dinner!

We’re graduating our fourth class of students, and celebrating our first anniversary, all in one, on Friday March 3! Tickets for this four-course feast are $35 a person. Or buy a whole table for eight. Just click on the orange button to the right, and buy tickets now.

Over the last year, we have graduated 14 students, earned more than $100,000 in catering and raised $40,000 in gifts and grant funds. Our students now graduate with certificates from the Columbia Gorge Community College. An active corp of volunteers keeps us going too.

This has been a rewarding and yet challenging year, and we are so excited to share this success with you! During our First Anniversary Dinner and Graduation, our graduating students will tell their stories and students from previous graduating classes will be on hand to answer questions and talk about their new jobs. You’ll get a chance to bid on catered dinners, getaways and wine. And we’ll share our vision with you as well as our challenges for the year ahead.

And of course, we can’t forget: you’ll enjoy a beautiful four-course dinner prepared by our students:

1st course: Arancini with prawn and Italian Salsa Verde

2nd Course: Roasted Beet salad with massaged kale and chevre

3rd Course: House-made fettucini with sauce Bolognese, grana padana. (Vegetarian option: roasted butternut squash, sage brown butter, shallots

4th course: Dark chocolate mousse with candied hazelnuts and Frangelico whipped cream

We need your support on March 3! This has been a challenging winter, and weather has caused clients to cancel a number of catered events. We know the road ahead this year will be bright, but the cold dark winter at the moment is difficult. We hope at least 80 of our supporters will be with us on March 3.

Holiday Desserts

The students of Fresh Start under the direction of Pastry Chef Rainbow Trosper are preparing holiday desserts. They’re perfect for your holiday table, holiday giving to friends, or to your staff or clients.

We will be selling desserts on Wednesday, December 21 and Thursday, December 22, from 11 am to 5 pm at Columbia Center for the Arts.

Each dessert will be in a gift-worthy box, with a gift card attached.

This collaboration with Fresh Start and Columbia Arts is generously underwritten by Insitu as part of the Art Center’s Partner Program.

We promise you delicious, fresh desserts, made with the finest of ingredients. Merry Christmas!


Join the Fresh Start Volunteer Corps

If you are a van wrangler, we need you. We also need volunteer servers, mentors, kitchen grunts, and occasionally, decorators.

It takes a village to graduate a culinary student! If you’ve been watching and reading about what’s been happening at Fresh Start, and saying, “Wow, that’s cool,” this is your chance to join us, maybe for just an hour, and be part of what we’re doing. Or you can adopt our catering van, and make sure it gets serviced and washed regularly, or help us set the dining room for events. We’d also like each of our students to have a mentor. So lots of tasks to choose from, and we always feed our volunteers.

Interested? You can check out upcoming volunteer activities clicking on the “volunteer” button near the top of the page. You’ll find a list of activities, and a form to fill out so Fresh Start can contact you.

You can also send an e-mail to Beth Hartwell, our volunteer coordinator, at, She’ll help you sign on to our list so you’ll see all the volunteer opportunities as they come up.

Register now for A Taste of Fresh Start

If you or your clients will need catering this year, please come see what our students can do! On November 1, we invite all brides, wedding and event planners, wedding venues, wineries, and those who regularly purchase catering to join us for “A Taste of Fresh Start.”

This event, brought to you by generous support of our sponsors, Columbia Bank and Columbia River Insurance, will excite your taste buds and imagination, as you plan your event or wedding.

TO REGISTER, just click on the orange “Register Now for a Taste of Fresh Start” button to your right. Tickets are free. Attendees will have a chance to win breakfast for eight.

October 19 is our Third Graduation Dinner

What are four courses that change the course of someone’s life? It’s not a trick question. On Wednesday, October 19, our students prepare a four-course dinner in celebration of their own graduation. And after that, jobs await these graduates.samantha

Tickets for this, the third graduation dinner and celebration for Fresh Start Culinary Arts Program since it launched this past March, are $35 a person, and can be purchased right here! Just look to the right and click on the graduation dinner tickets [Editori’s note: Ticket sales now closed.]. The dinner is at 6 pm at Riverside Community Church, and guests are invited to bring their own beer and wine to enjoy.

img_0766“We are so proud of our students, and to be sharing this dinner with the community that has been so supportive of our program,” says board chair Kathy Watson. “So far, all of our graduates have landed full-time jobs right after completing our program. This cohort will also be our first to receive two 220-hour certificates from Columbia Gorge Community College, one for food safety and one for food preparation.”

Fresh Start is an intensive 12-week 40-hour a week culinary training program that prepares students for entry-level jobs in food service. Most of these jobs start at $12-$15 an hour, and offer opportunities for rapid advancement. Those interested in the program should contact Fresh Start at 541-399-6929, or click on the button above that says “application.” The next 12-week session begins November 29. Tuition is 100% supported, so students attend at no cost.

Get your tickets for August 18 Graduation

It just seems like our second cohort arrived yesterday, put on their uniforms, and picked up their knives for the first time. This week, we listened with pride as they offered assistance to the incoming students as they all prepared breakfast for the Oregon Community Foundation. We were so excited to host the board and senior staff of this important foundation, and to get a chance to make a presentation about Fresh Start.

Student Samantha and program administrator Rainbow Trosper prepare parfaits for the Oregon Community Foundation breakfast.

Student Samantha and program administrator Rainbow Trosper prepare parfaits for the Oregon Community Foundation breakfast.

And now, our second cohort, Samantha and Casey, are ready to head out into the world of food!

Please join us for this, our second graduation dinner, on Thursday, August 18, 6:00 pm. Here is the dinner our students and staff, Chef Matt Patterson and Chef Rainbow Trosper, will prepare for you:

First course: Duck confit pastry with apricot chutney and brie

Second course: Tomato caprese salad

Third course: Salmon with ratatouille

Dessert: Peach cake

Dinner is $35, and we encourage you to bring wine and beer of your choosing (since we do not have a liquor license). You can purchase tickets by clicking on the Buy Graduation Dinner Tickets to the right of this announcement. (Tip: you may not see this button if you are using a handheld computer such as an I-pad.)

Come one, come two, or … come eight! If you buy a whole table ($280) and bring your friends, we’ll have a special gift for you: join us for one of our cooking classes for home cooks! This is a great way to introduce your neighbors and friends to Fresh Start for the first time, and have a lovely mid-summer dinner.

And as always, we’ll have exciting news and fun gifts for lucky diners!

Your attendance assures two things: You will have a fabulous, modestly priced dinner. And you will be helping our program with your contribution. We look forward to dining with you!

Farm Dinner is sold out … but wait!

Fans of Fresh Start, here it is Wednesday, and our Farm Dinner this Saturday night is sold out. But don’t despair! We’ll have more dinners to come. Next up: Graduation dinner in the Pioneer Room at Riverside on August 18. Tickets will go on sale August 1. Thanks so much for your support.