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Probation Serves Culinary Inspiration to Juvenile Offenders

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cooking

April 28, 2011

San Diego County’s Probation Department is hoping that mixing two top chefs with 16 troubled teenagers trying to get their lives back on track will create a recipe for success.

The young men in the Probation Department’s Youthful Offender Unit, a program for the most serious juvenile offenders, participated in a cooking demonstration with local television chef Sam Zien, also known as “Sam the Cooking Guy,” and local executive chef Matt Gordon at the East Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility today. While learning new cooking skills, the teenagers heard about the importance of finding their own career path.

“The Probation Department offers a variety of programs for the young people in our facilities to help them turn their lives around, from substance abuse counseling to career training,” said Chief Probation Officer Mack Jenkins. “It makes such a difference when community members volunteer their time to help these juveniles, and I commend Mr. Zien and Mr. Gordon for providing this opportunity.”


Urban Solace executive chef Matt Gordon makes pizza crust with a group of juvenile offenders.

Zien, whose Emmy-award winning show can be seen locally on CTN.org, Channel 4 and Discovery Health, is not a trained chef and had no television experience when he embarked on his career path at the age of 40. He shared his story to show the teenagers that it is possible to be successful by following your passion. 

Gordon, who owns Urban Solace, is a restaurant-trained chef and told participants about what it takes to work in the industry.

“They’re trying to plant some seeds for these guys,” said Zien. “It’s really important that all of us work to show kids what options they have in the world.  I try to do that with my own kids, but kids that have fallen off the path and ended up in the juvenile system need it especially.”

Learn more about programs for juvenile offenders on the Probation Department website.