NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — At The Cookery, executive director and head chef Brett Swayn said there's something about cooking that can change lives.
“When you find that you’re invited to a table, the walls are more down. The conversation comes more easily, and you can learn what’s going on in the heart,” he said.
In the restaurant's kitchen are culinary students who share a similar story.
“[When] they come off the streets, there’s a sense of normality, if you will, that they cannot trust right away," said Swayn. "The only thing that makes it seem more valid for them is that every one of us have gone through homelessness back there.”
The formerly homeless students learn everything from dishwashing to food prep. Students going through the program are also offered housing, a monthly stipend, counseling and medical check-ups. To date, 72 men have gone through the program.
It's an experience Swayn knows all too well.
“I didn’t want to be homeless," he said. "I wouldn’t have volunteered for that.”
After living on the streets, Swayn was given the chance to work at a high-end restaurant in Nashville where he worked his way up. Now he's sharing his skills — rooted in faith — to help others change their lives too.
“I think a lot of the things that we go through in life we feel so utterly alone, until the moment we find out we’re not," Swayn said.
At The Cookery, he says everyone is welcome at his table and in his kitchen.