Sign in below to manage your monthly gift or email communications Sign in »
Recipes for Success: Darnell

Stay Connected

Kevin's story of hope and courage

Meet Darnell

Darnell Brown has dreamed of being a chef for as long as he can remember. He comes from a big family - he is one of eight kids - and meals were a time that everyone always came together. After high school he enrolled in culinary school but had to withdraw when his mother passed away. He set his dreams aside and started a landscaping business with some of his brothers to make ends meet.

When he learned about Second Harvest’s Culinary Training Program he knew this was an opportunity to finish what he started years before.

During his time in the Darden Foundation Community Kitchen, Darnell learned how to juggle what he calls “knife skills and life skills,” or what you may call work/life balance. The biggest lesson he learned is to be patient and pursue what makes you happy.

“I waited a long time for an opportunity like this. I’m going to make the most of it,” Darnell said. At the end of the 16-week program, Darnell interned with Kolaiah’s Catering, a local catering and personal chef business owned by fellow Second Harvest graduate Kenny Neal. With his experience as an entrepreneur, Darnell wanted to shadow someone who had launched their own business.

“Having the chance to mentor Darnell was a way for me to pay it forward,” Kenny said. “If I could take what I learned at Second Harvest and help someone else, to me, that’s what it’s all about.”

Darnell shadowed Kenny on a week-long trip to Georgia where they cooked for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily for a client and his family of 10. Darnell was able to practice his prep work, mis en place and put all of his skills to the test. He also learned how to make crepes from scratch, a food he’d never tried before.

“It was a like a final exam,” he recalled upon return. “It was the one of the greatest experiences of my life.” Today Darnell works for Chef Kenny at Kolaiah’s Catering.

“If you love to cook and need a second chance, definitely come to Second Harvest,” Darnell said.

The Second Harvest Culinary Training Program provides qualified, at-risk and economically disadvantaged adults with the culinary and life skills training needed to pursue a sustainable career in the food industry. To learn more about or apply for the program, visit

Inspired to help more of our neighbors in need like Darnell? Find ways to help!

View more stories of Culinary Students

View more Stories of Hope & Courage

Hunger In Our Community
Stories of Hope and Courage Click to read stories of hope and courage
Meet some of the families, kids and seniors that you help. Read their stories.
How You Help
Learn how you are helping to feed families, kids, and seniors in Central Florida. Your impact
Thank You for Changing Kandi's Life Thank you for changing Kandi's life
Your support helps moms like Kandi. Watch video.
Become a
Sustaining Donor!
- or -
Give a One-Time Gift
$10 Donated Provides 40 meals for our Neighbors in Need.
Stay Connected



Contact Us 411 Mercy Drive, Orlando, Fl 32805Ph: 407-295-1066 | F: 407-295-5299 Visit our other sites: Feed Hope Now Blog Partner Agencies gogreenback with Second Harvest Food Bank