• About

        • Catering & Cafes

Cultivating Connections that Transcend the Kitchen

At DC Central Kitchen, our work extends far beyond providing meals. We build communities, forge connections, and create opportunities for growth. Through our programs and volunteer opportunities, individuals from diverse backgrounds come together, forming bonds that often go beyond the Kitchen. Many of our volunteers, staff members, and Culinary Job Training graduates have found more than just culinary skills here—they’ve discovered friendships, mentorship, and even love. The following stories of love and success highlight the transformative power of DCCK. 

Former Board member Winston Bao Lord found more than just a passion for philanthropy through DC Central Kitchen—he found love. On their second date, Winston brought his now-wife to a volunteer shift at DC Central Kitchen. Despite being a pescatarian, Stephanie dove into the experience wholeheartedly and “gamely chopped venison,” shared Winston. Reflecting on that evening, Winston recalls, “Right then and there I knew we had something special. It really solidified for both of us what kind of person the other person was and what mattered to them most.” Their shared commitment to service deepened their connection, leading to an engagement just five months later. 

Then there’s Jovon, a recent graduate of our Culinary Job Training Program who now works at the DC Central Kitchen Cafe at THEARC. Jovon’s success story stretches beyond his own achievements; it also involves his brother, Aaron. Coming from a family with a passion for cooking, Jovon’s culinary journey inspired Aaron to follow suit. Seeing his brother’s passion and skill in the kitchen motivated Aaron to join and graduate from the Culinary Job Training Program. Jovon shares, “I would cook certain things in the house, and I would see his reaction. I think it helped him want to join the program because he likes to cook as well.” 

DC Central Kitchen represents hope, love, and a sense of family that creates stronger ties in families, like the father and son duo Victor and Vernon. After completing the Culinary Job Training program, Victor joined the Kitchen as a Production Cook. His journey motivated Vernon to follow in his footsteps, ultimately completing the program himself, only 4 classes after his father. Vernon then joined the staff as a Guide with DC Central Kitchen where he gives tours of the Klein Center and directs volunteers. “We are actually closer now,” Vernon reflected. “This place grabs a hold on you and once they have a hold on you, they never let go.”  

The same can be said for Ms. Deanna and her daughter Lovia, whose relationship flourished through their shared experiences at DC Central Kitchen. Lovia, completed the Culinary Job Training Program with incredible success, earning the highest GPA in her class and serving as class representative. “Even to this day, I get up and I am excited to be here,” shares Lovia, who is now a lead with Vernon on the Guest Experience team. “It is the environment, the love.” Her dedication and hard work inspired her mother to join the Workforce Development team where she engages and supports Culinary Job Training graduates. While she isn’t a grad herself, she can relate to the students through her daughter’s experience and is committed to helping more people pursue their dreams, just like Lovia has. For Ms. Deanna, joining the team meant experiencing the same warmth and acceptance her daughter had received. Working together has strengthened their bond, Lovia expressed, “I see her, I don’t have to worry as much. We get to eat together and chat together. It shows me where I get my work ethic from.”  

Whether it’s finding love during a volunteer shift or inspiring family members to pursue their dreams, DC Central Kitchen has its own special way of bringing people together.