GO Welcomes 19 New Culinary and Construction Graduates to our Alumni Community


Cycle 13 GO Build Graduates and Instructors


GO welcomed 19 new members to our graduate community last Thursday, November 17. 11 students successfully completed the GO Kitchen Ready training program, while eight students were recognized from GO Build. The ceremony was held in Ferguson Auditorium at A-B Tech Community College.


This class was the first to complete the initial segment of the redesigned GO Build construction training program, which consists of three 15-week modules. GO Build Graduates have the option to seek employment now, or return to the training program in January to receive more in-depth instruction in carpentry and construction. Returning students will also hone their leadership skills by serving as project leads on class projects and mentoring new students.



Josh Blocker addresses his fellow graduates and guests.


At Thursday’s ceremony, Josh Blocker, a 23 year old Asheville native, spoke on behalf of his class. “The days spent here in this program I gained a lot of knowledge and self motivation. I know my fellow peers have done the same and as a proud graduate I would like to say thank you. I can say that there’s a future for me now after graduating this first cycle. The tools and mechanics that GO Green taught me inspired me to look at life in a totally different way.”


As Liam Luttrell-Rowland, Chef Director of Kitchen Ready, shared during the ceremony, four Kitchen Ready Cycle 13 graduates have already secured job placements in the culinary industry. Guy Stivender and Tony Ashford will continue working with the Kitchen Ready team in Southside Kitchen, and Stephen Hammond has been hired by The Corner Kitchen; he has been working at Corner Kitchen Catering since September.



Kitchen Ready graduate Michelle O’Dette, shown here with her family, was offered a position working on the line at Curate.


Michelle O’Dette was offered a position working the garde manger station at Cúrate, where she will prepare desserts and salads. Michelle is the first Kitchen Ready graduate to be offered a job by Heirloom Hospitality Group, the parent company for leading Asheville restaurants Cúrate and Nightbell. Reflecting on her experience in the Kitchen Ready program, Michelle said, “the most important thing I learned during my time at GO is that no matter what anyone says, you can still follow your dreams—all it takes is hard work.”



Kierra Byers successfully completed Cycle 13 after exiting Cycle 12 early.


24 year old Kierra Byers, a member of Kitchen Ready and Youth Corps, exited Cycle 12 early to address personal issues, but returned for Cycle 13 and completed the training program on her second try. “This program brought the real person out of me that I’d never seen before. I want to thank GO Green for helping with all my problems and troubles. Thanks for putting a smile on my face every day. I know my mother and grandmother are proud of me. And this time, I didn’t give up,” shared Kierra.



Jammie Wright was selected as the student speaker representing the Kitchen Ready class.


Kitchen Ready graduate Jammie Wright was selected as the student speaker for her class. “My plans after I graduate from GO are to work in a restaurant in Asheville and finish my BA and MA in social work. I intend to show my kids that they can do anything that they set their hearts, minds and souls to do. [GO] has put me on the right path to better myself and make a real living for my children.”



Chef Joe Scully of Chestnut and Corner Kitchen received GO’s Award for Outstanding Community Partnership.


In addition to celebrating student achievement, GO presented awards to community members and organizations that played a key role in supporting programmatic and student success this cycle. Mission Health was honored as an Outstanding Employer Partner, and Chef Joe Scully of Chestnut, The Corner Kitchen, and Corner Kitchen Catering received an award for Outstanding Community Partnership. Chef Joe is a long-time champion of Kitchen Ready who has served as a ‘Chef Tuesday’ guest instructor, “Work Experience Fridays’ apprenticeship host, and employer of graduates.


Jamanda Harris was recognized with a Humanitarian Award, in recognition of the mentorship and support she provided to several students throughout the cycle. Finally, Mr. Roy Harris was honored as Volunteer of the Year. Mr. Harris is a regular volunteer and contributor to both Southside Kitchen and the Southside Community Garden.


We want to extend a sincere ‘thank you’ to the family, friends, partners, employers, and community members who supported our students throughout the training cycle and joined us to cheer them on last Thursday. View photos from the event on the Green Opportunities Facebook page.