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Illinois jail teaches inmates how to cook, giving them life lessons to use upon release

CHICAGO, Illinois-- A chef is leading a special program at a Chicagoland jail, teaching inmates to cook and a whole lot more.

Chef Bruno Abate says he's serving up a "Recipe for Change" to inmates at the Cook County jail. That's the name of the 3-month program he designed, teaching inmates how to cook. More than that, the program gives them a sense of work ethic, patience, and the motivation to become a better person when they are back outside in the world.

"I feel like this program will help the community, bring the inmates in the community to become citizens again, and have normal jobs," Chef Abate explains. "This is protecting our community, our kids, and it makes a better world."

Thousands of inmates submit letters to participate in "Recipe for Change," but only 20 to 30 get accepted at a time. Those that are in the program are very thankful.

Tyler, a detainee of the jail and a current participant says, "I'm very grateful, I know it's a lot of inmates that want to participate in this program. I'm just grateful that Chef Bruno chose me."

K.J., another detainee and program participant agrees. He says, "Now I have a different track of mind since I've been in this program. Now I'm thinking about my family and what matters the most when I get out of here."

The pair is already making big plans for a brighter future.

"After this, I want to open my restaurant soon," Tyler says. "It'll be a mixture between Italian and urban food," K.J. predicts. "It would give everybody a wide variety of things they've never tasted before. Something different."

Inmates in the program work in the kitchen, in the basement of the jail, 5 days a week. And the food they make, much of which is gourmet, is served to other inmates who've had "good behavior" at the jail.