After reaching celebrity status on Food Network, Chef Robert Stewart returned home to Baltimore to launch a free culinary training program to help youth gain life and job skills, and he turned to Baltimore Public Storage for space to keep his growing number of donations.
“I just realized that I feel really good about my accomplishments and I wanted to do something for my hometown,” he said. “I had a building in Baltimore, but it didn’t work out. Plus, the rent was $2,000 and storage was $80 and nearby.”
Chef Stew calls that inspiration Transition Kitchen, one of many small businesses and cause organizations that store behind our orange doors at more than 2,300 locations across the country, for more space at a lower cost than a storefront. He plans to launch the program soon.
“Public Storage has been trustworthy and dependable since the beginning,” he said. “The property is really neat and clean, and I feel like my stuff is secure.”
We’re always happy to help customers find the perfect space!
Using Food to Help Community in Need
Like many in the culinary industry, Chef Stew worked his way up from entry-level jobs. He left Baltimore to open a restaurant in Atlanta, but that didn’t work out, so he worked at 45 restaurants in a 5-year span through a temp agency. He plans to teach kids the same job skills he learned through all that hard work with the launch of Transition Kitchen.
“I love the old McDonald’s commercial where the fry cook becomes the manager,” he said. “The food industry is just like that. You can come in scrubbing floors, but eventually you could be the guy running the restaurant.”
Stewart headed to San Francisco with the promise of a chance at showing his skills on Food Network, which he finally got to do in a 2015 episode of Guy’s Grocery Games. He was eliminated, but later got a second chance and the taste of reality T.V. victory later that year on Cutthroat Kitchen, where he won nearly $10,000.
And yes host Alton Brown is as cool as he seems on T.V., says Stewart.
Chef Stew, a proud dad, realized after his Food Network appearances that he could use his newfound fame to help guide youth in the right direction.
“I didn’t want to wait until I got super rich to give back,” he said. “I can’t give everyone a Mercedes-Benz, but I can help put people through school so they can afford their own Mercedes-Benz.”
He planned to start Transition Kitchen in Los Angeles, but after 2015 community protests and riots in Baltimore he was drawn back to his home town with the goal of creating positive change.
Chef Finds Needed Space at Baltimore Public Storage
When Chef Stew launches Transition Kitchen – the sooner, the better – he wants he wants the location to be perfect, and he’s still looking. He’s also in full swing on his fundraising efforts for the costly professional kitchen equipment needed. And he’s accepting donations of equipment.
Thankfully, his neighborhood Public Storage had the perfect space for him to store his growing collection!
“He is really nice and down-to-earth,” said Syreeta Cornick, the property’s manager and Baltimore native who has seen the community come together thanks to people like Chef Stew. “I think the program will be a really great addition to the community, because kids don’t have a lot of options around here.”
And when Chef Stew does open the doors of Transition Kitchen in Baltimore, he doesn’t plan to stop there.
“This will be in a lot of major cities across the country,” he said. “We’re going everywhere.”
Good thing Public Storage has so many locations to support him along the way!