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Utah inmates cook up a fresh start in kitchen

June 10, 2018

SPANISH FORK, Utah (AP) — A group of inmates are learning to be chefs inside the Utah County Jail as they try to acquire a skillset that can help them lead a crime-free life once they get out.

The inmates used to deal in drugs. Now, in the jail’s RISE program which seeks to rehabilitate drug offenders, they deal with food, the Deseret News reported .

“If you’ve got to be in jail, why not come and cook some good food and learn some stuff?” inmate Dalton Dumas said. “We get to learn a lot.”

The kitchen inmates have made ribs, chicken cordon bleu, scalloped potatoes, chile verde, chile Colorado, plus a complement of baked goods.

Inmate Tyler Wielechowski said his cooking skills still have a long way to go.

“I can’t cook much,” he said. “I’m still learning how to put peanut butter on bread. I still put metal pots in a microwave.”

The inmates’ supervisor, Deputy Jason Heidel, who was a chef before he got into law enforcement, admits it took some time for the deputies to trust what they were eating and who was making it.

“Food is a very personal thing,” Heidel said. “You’re creating something from nothing essentially, and someone’s going to eat it and nourish their body with it.”

Heidel said he joined law enforcement to face down criminal offenders. But those offenders will someday be back in the community and might fare better armed with culinary skills.

“I found out that I was much better working in the kitchen, being able to take my skills that I have and help these guys become better people,” Heidel said.


Information from: Deseret News, http://www.deseretnews.com

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