Skip to main content

RSW Living Magazine

Vets2Success Program to Educate and Empower Veterans for Reintegration Into Communities Through Food and Drink

Oct 11, 2017 12:09PM ● Published by Kevin

Gallery: Vets2Success 2017 [5 Images] Click any image to expand.

After three years of serving local veterans through his Vet2Chef program, founder and president Bryan Jacobs has decided to create Vets2Success, an organization with the sole mission of educating and empowering veterans for reintegration into communities through food and brew programs. Jacobs founded the original Vet2Chef in 2014 after the passing of his younger brother, Kevin, to veteran suicide.

"The program started with six veterans as we partnered with goodwill veteran services for our main support to the veterans," Jacobs explained. "I have been in food since I can remember I started cooking very young, but just thought of it as a way of life, not a career."

His grandfather was a chef, and at an early age and early mornings of hot cocoa and Corn Flakes, the young Jacobs found himself developing menus and planning evening dinners.

"At 8 [years old], I’m not sure most kids planned on making roast beef," he said. "My whole life has been wrapped around food and I have been blessed in my career to have had the opportunity to cook with some of the best and cook for some of the elite."

Jacobs is a graduate of the University of South Florida Sarasota Manatee, class of 2015, with a Bachelor's of Science. From there, he traveled to France for a double Master in Culinary Innovation, Leadership and Management. For many years, he has been a private Chef and says he has enjoyed the experience immensely.

This has opened the opportunity for him to organize and run the nonprofit that has become his life's work, and has led to a sponsorship by the University South Florida Sarasota Manatee. The organization uses the university's Culinary Innovation Lab for its teaching space.

"They have been a great support to the project," he said. "Our other supporters are Goodwill Veterans Services of Sarasota. They have been instrumental in the support to our project. They provide funding for the veterans that come through Vet2Chef."

Vet2Chef's fourth class graduated in September, and a new class started at the end of the month. Typically, seven to 10 veterans come through each class. Jacobs said, however, not everyone is ready for change.

 
"This opportunity must be taken very serious[ly] by the veterans, as most don’t have jobs or are in day-labor positions, which we can only imagine in the Florida sun how fun that is," he said. "During this program, the veterans get more than just cooking knowledge, they get a chance to reimagine themselves; to find a light at the end of the tunnel.

"Most veterans that are going through a rough transition do not understand what life is, nor do they know whom they are. Every veteran who used to be someone in the military is no longer that same person and an identity crisis is almost evident. We help them find themselves over this process with the recipe of life."

Jacobs said every class and each individual has shown him the power of life-changing moments. His prerogative is to show each individual that there is still a chance to live, and that they are not alone on the journey.

The biggest lesson he teaches, he said, is the first one: you can either change your life for the better or for the worst.

"Losing my brother to suicide has changed my life dearly," he said. "The struggle of not knowing why or how I have made it through what I have and he couldn’t is something I deal with every day. I make sure the veterans understand that they can to move forward with this mindset."

Jacobs hopes to open this opportunity across the country. He plans on introducing other programs, such as Vet2Coffee, Vet2Brew, Vet2Agro and Vet2Baker, to name a few. He also hopes to focus on providing veterans a stepping stone into entrepreneurship, through his sustainable gastropub, where patrons can see where food comes from as well as the hands behind its creation.

"It actually will create a relationship between the guest and producer, as each of these veterans' stories can be viewed and followed, and you can actually see where your money goes," he said.

With that being said, the biggest struggle for this monumental group of endeavors is funding. Vets2Success and Jacobs is looking for funding, as well as investors into the main business concept.

"Currently we are unfunded and are in dire need of funding in order to support the program," he explained. "Unfortunately, we need to be able to pay people for their time and ability to train people. This is the biggest obstacle we are facing as the financial situation can really help grow this program."

The first major round of support can help the group become sustainable. For more information on giving and getting involved, visit Vets2Success.org.
Life+Leisure culinary arts veterans entrepreneurs food cooking
  • 2018 Tour De Cape

    01/21/2018
    08:00AM

    Friday, January 19, 2018 Pre-event packet pick-up celebration at Cape Harbour 5:00 - 8:00pm ...


  • The bounty of fresh, locally produced food is closer than you think! Check out the map for a lis...


  • Sanibel Island Farmer's Market

    01/21/2018
    08:00AM — 01:00PM

    The Sanibel Island Farmers Market was established in 2008. It is a favorite outdoor activity for...


  • Art Fest Naples returns to Fleischmann Park on January 20 and 21, 2018. Celebrating 21 years, Art...


  • The Hallelujah Girls

    01/21/2018
    11:45AM

    From the writers of The Dixie Swim Club and The Savannah Sipping Society comes this all-new, roll...


  • Mindful Retirement with Valarie and Nancy

    01/21/2018
    01:00PM — 03:00PM

    Are you thinking about retirement or enjoying it already? Have some hopes and fears about this ti...


  • Crimes of the Heart

    01/21/2018
    02:00PM

    The tragicomedy relates the story of the three Magrath sisters, Meg, Babe, and Lenny, who reunite...


  • How the Other Half Loves

    01/21/2018
    02:00PM

    Featuring Tony Nominee, Paxton Whitehead! One secret affair, two disastrous dinner parties, and ...


  • The Pajama Game

    01/21/2018
    03:00PM

    Conditions at the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory are anything but peaceful as sparks fly between the n...


  • Experience deep relaxation body and soul as you surrender into restorative poses. Linda will shar...


  • The Hallelujah Girls

    01/21/2018
    05:30PM

    From the writers of The Dixie Swim Club and The Savannah Sipping Society comes this all-new, roll...


  • A Tribute To Ella

    01/21/2018
    07:00PM — 09:00PM

    A program honoring the “First Lady of Song” with Capathia Jenkins, Aisha de Haas, and Metropolita...


  • The bounty of fresh, locally produced food is closer than you think! Check out the map for a lis...


  • Open Painting at The Paint Escape

    01/23/2018
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Ceramic painting for children and adults, create a decorative item. Friday night offers ladie...


  • December 20, 2017 – February 16, 2018 Opening Reception: Wednesday, December 20, 2017, 6pm-8pm...


  • The Hallelujah Girls

    01/23/2018
    11:45AM

    From the writers of The Dixie Swim Club and The Savannah Sipping Society comes this all-new, roll...


  • Surfside Sunset Market

    01/23/2018
    01:00PM — 06:00PM

    The Surfside Sunset Market is located at The Shops at Surfside. From November through April, the ...


  • Wicked Dolphin Distillery Tour

    01/23/2018
    03:00PM — 04:00PM

    We will take you through the steps of how we source our ingredients, cook, ferment, distill, in o...


  • The Hallelujah Girls

    01/23/2018
    05:30PM

    From the writers of The Dixie Swim Club and The Savannah Sipping Society comes this all-new, roll...


  • Complete original art while enjoying friends, music and favorite beverages. Materials provided, o...


  • How the Other Half Loves

    01/23/2018
    07:00PM

    Featuring Tony Nominee, Paxton Whitehead! One secret affair, two disastrous dinner parties, and ...


  • Noises Off

    01/23/2018
    07:30PM

    “Noises Off” is a laugh-out-loud farce surrounding an opening night performance of a play called ...


  • Moving Identities

    01/26/2018
    07:30PM

    Commencing The Sarasota Ballet’s 2018 Winter Season is Program 4, Moving Identities. The program ...


  • Northside Hollow

    01/26/2018
    08:00PM

    Trapped underground after a deadly collapse, a coal miner finds his salvation in the arrival of a...


  • Dan Miller and Lew Del Gatto are joined by an All-Star group of friends for a special afternoon o...


  • This year’s Winter Concert Series is going to be better than ever! Paul Todd and Paul Todd, J...


  • Moving Identities

    01/29/2018
    07:30PM

    Commencing The Sarasota Ballet’s 2018 Winter Season is Program 4, Moving Identities. The program ...


Proudly Brought To You By These Community Sponsors