Esteban Bueno – Cohort ’17

Esteban grew up in a good family, but found himself rising up the ranks of a gang in New York until he was sentenced to 17 years in prison. Upon his release, he moved into a residential reentry house and was turned down for job after job. He finally secured a low-paying dishwashing position and was contemplating going back to his old way of life when he learned about NECAT from another member of his house.

“NECAT has been a true blessing. It is so much more than a culinary training program – any problem you have, they help you,” said Esteban. “I came from a world of violence, a place where no one gives a damn. Everyone at NECAT is helpful and cares about my future.”

During Esteban’s NECAT training, he completed culinary stages and interviewed at for several job openings. Because of his training and positive attitude, Esteban received multiple offers. He chose to work for Big Night Entertainment at their restaurants Empire and Explorateur.

“It feels incredible. I am so proud of myself and how much I have changed in a short six months. I learned how to cook, I got a job and I make good money.”

Esteban plans to work his way up the career ladder and become an Executive Chef. And he is off to a great start!

“NECAT is a lifesaver – without it, I would be dead or back in prison. I love my life, I love cooking and I love how proud my family is of me.”