Simple Mistake in the Kitchen Turns into Sweet Success for a Homeless…

A caring veteran’s life has been made better by a simple mistake in the kitchen. Yeast makes bread rise.

Stefan DeArno hadn’t been to his hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, in a little over 30 years, but in 2017 he moved back there because his parents’ health was getting worse.

At age 56, the US Coast Guard veteran didn’t have enough money for an apartment, and his parents lived in a small house, so he agreed to move into a homeless shelter.

A veteran social worker was able to find him a place at One80 Place, which is a unique shelter that helps its residents get jobs.

DeArno took part in the shelter’s program to learn how to cook while he was there. He had always loved to cook. As a child, he spent a lot of time in the kitchen with his mother and grandmother.

The shelter teamed up with a local food and wine festival so that people in their program could get some work experience. As well as helping out, DeArno was told to try to talk to some of the chefs at the event.

There, he met Roland Feldman, the owner of the Smoke BBQ restaurant. Feldman was attracted to DeArno’s sunny personality and charm.

Because he wore neat black and white clothes, the chef started calling him “Reverend.”

He gave the charming old-timer a job, and in November of last year, the new guy made a mistake that would change his life forever.

He made a mistake and put heavy cream in the cornbread instead of buttermilk. DeArno was worried that the mistake would get him fired, but Feldman told him to put the batter in the oven anyway.

When the cornbread was done baking, it was more moist, lighter, and golden than usual.

When DeArno gave the cornbread to the restaurant staff, they couldn’t believe how good it was, even though he had changed a classic recipe.

Feldman thought DeArno’s idea was so good that he offered to go into business with him. Today, they own the Reverend Cornbread Co. together.

DeArno now has a steady income and a place of his own thanks to his small food business, but he hasn’t forgotten the place that gave him hope.

Even though he has to take care of his parents and start a new business, he still goes back to One80 Place to volunteer as a tutor, and he uses his new food truck to feed the homeless.

“You have nothing if you don’t have hope,” he said. “One80 place gave me hope and a way out. When I had to deal with my parents, it was a relief to be able to do something I really love, which is cooking.

“Seeing people enjoy something I’ve made is one of the best feelings I’ve ever had… Just seeing my mother smile makes me feel very proud. And it felt great.”