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Clients standing in a industrial kitchend wearing aprons, wtih Chef Allison Owns in the background
Chef Instructor Allison Owens (right) with members of her cooking crew, Jeffrey, Honkey, and Nga. “This is my day off, but I just came by to visit with my buddies.”

Cooking Up a Storm

Sept-Oct 2001

Allison Owens is the instructor at The Arc’s kitchen and runs the catering service. Before The Arc she worked as a chef for hotels, restaurants, and commercial catering services.

“This is my first job where I wasn’t in a hotel or restaurant or strictly a catering operation,” she explains. “Now I’m just part of The Arc umbrella. Everyone is here to train the clients and help them to go out into the work world. It has been a change for me. I was used to being around cooks, waiters, and bartenders and here I’m training these people. Everyday it is different, but that is my favorite part. I enjoy all the different personalities and all the different levels.


“Several of the clients who worked with me in the kitchen have gotten jobs at restaurants and other facilities. We have a café at United Nations Plaza, and we have three clients over there. They help with bringing out the dishes and putting things away. I’ve taught some of them how to use a knife and to help with chopping – I’m careful about who gets to use a knife, and nobody gets to use the big slicer. If I have an event, like at Charles Schwab, or catering, I’ll take some of them with me, and they will help me set it up. They are great.
“This woman [Nga] is phenomenal with a knife. She doesn’t speak much English, but she can make potato salad and soup on her own.
“Jeff worked at a restaurant in Pleasanton. He took the BART over there by himself for a couple of weeks.”
“Honkey helps put my food away and organize the storage room. He can be a little trouble maker at times. He can be a little gossip and a little flirt, but he is a good hard worker. He is very strong. He brings the food down to the van and loads it for me when we have a delivery.”