Up-and-coming program targets young people interested in culinary arts

Kitchen Campus founded by Johnny Hernandez

SAN ANTONIO – An after-school program in San Antonio is the first of its kind in the city, as it targets and mentors ambitious young chefs.

Kitchen Campus provides those who are interested in culinary arts with a career path.

Johnny Hernandez, chef and founder of Kitchen Campus, spoke about the project Wednesday.

The students "may be interested in cooking or baking or hospitality or restaurant management,” Hernandez said. “They may want their own food truck. Some of them have entrepreneurial ambitions."

For now, the dream kitchen is empty, but Hernandez has a vision that this space will give others immense opportunity.

The concept is in its early stages, but the mission is fully set: to help middle school and high school students become the next “big thing.”

"The other thing that we're going to do as Kitchen Campus is career path enlightenment (and) development,” Hernandez said. “We’re going to work with the school districts. We’re going to work with teachers and counselors and parents to fill that gap and need, that students have to plan their future.”

When it comes to food, Hernandez is one of the top 10 names in the Alamo City. He has more than 10 restaurants and is a proud West Side native. He wants to give back to the community while also preparing the future chefs of San Antonio.

“We’re going through a few growing pains right now in terms of workforce,” Hernandez said. “The workforce is quite shallow and we have a lot more jobs then we have skilled students or skilled professionals.”

Kitchen Campus is being made possible through donations, fundraising efforts and grants. A few boot camps and competitions have already given the program an outline on how to be successful.

It’s set to launch in 2020, and those looking to be a part of it should act quickly.

"We have a website, KitchenCampus.org, so everything will start there but we also go and recruit," Hernandez said.