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Colorado Cultural Collectives’

Groundbreaking Culinary Workforce Program

Shovel Ready is a new, groundbreaking on-site culinary workforce development program conceived by Linda Weise and award-winning chefs Brother Luck, Jay Gust, Justin Miller and Ben Hoffer. Classes start soon at The Well, on the corner of Weber and Pikes Peak, brought to you by The Community Cultural Collective at the Colorado Springs City Auditorium.

The Shovel Ready Program connects aspiring chefs with restaurant industry professionals in the Colorado Springs community. This first-of-its-kind program pairs students with internationally-renowned chefs to learn practical business skills and creative expression in the kitchen.

Shovel Ready is a unique “earn and learn” program championed by several of our region’s most prolific and dedicated restauranteurs: Jay Gust, Brother Luck, Justin Miller, and Ben Hoffer. Jay Gust of Ascent Restaurants is the owner of local favorites such as Pizzeria Rustica, Tapateria, and Homa Café Bar and was a quarter-finalist in the World’s Favorite Chef competition. Chef Brother Luck made his name by bringing global inspiration with unique flavors and techniques to every plate.

In addition to his winning competition on Beat Bobby Flay, he was a contestant on Bravo TV’s show Chopped. He owns and operates Four by Brother Luck and Lucky Dumpling in Colorado Springs. He has received numerous accolades, including “Best Local Chef” and “Most Cutting Edge Restaurant” by The Gazette.

Justin Miller has served as Executive Sous Chef at The Broadmoor for over 18 years and brings a range of culinary experiences to the program, from agricultural dining to dessert confections. Ben Hoffer, who will serve as Program Consult, is the chef and owner of Purple Garlic Productions. He has more than 23 years of working at fine dining establishments, in addition to his ownership of High Rise Pizza Kitchen in Colorado Springs.

These chefs are joined by successful entrepreneur Justin Grant, co-owner of the award-winning Goat Patch Brewing Company to represent the beverage side of the industry. These industry leaders will work alongside Linda Weise, President and CEO of the Community Cultural Collective, Traci Marques of the Pikes Peak Workforce Center,and educators at the Pikes Peak State College to provide a first-of-its-kind comprehensive workforce training program.

The program will benefit the City Auditorium restoration project and the community at large, providing local chefs the opportunity to give back to the community and aspiring chefs with business and resource management training, including financing and resources necessary to build a successful career.

While many culinary programs teach essential skillsets, the Shovel Ready Program teaches a broader range of skills, allowing students to handle the demands of higher- profile restaurant environments easily. The program’s initiative allows aspiring chefs from all backgrounds to learn from dedicated restaurant owners giving back to build up our local community.

Shovel Ready training classes will take place at The Well restaurant in downtown Colorado Springs, adjacent to the City Auditorium, with oversight from professionals experienced in the kitchen and front-of-the-house operations. This program will provide forward- facing learning experiences, including full- service breakfast, lunch, dinner, and catering.

The program will be open to eight students every six weeks, incorporating advanced food preparation skills, fine dining menu building, vendor relations, and scale business modeling. The Shovel Ready Program is tuition-based, but scholarships are available. Enrolled students can be paid for their work during the program, which is 25 hours a week, and are eligible for additional employment opportunities upon completion.

The Community Cultural Collective at the Colorado Springs City Auditorium is pleased to announce the launch of its first workplace development program, Shovel Ready, a Capstone Culinary Hospitality Creative Workforce Program, starting February 7, 2023.

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