He made a pretty simple mistake in the kitchen one day, but that minor slip-up ultimately saw a formerly homeless veteran become a successful new business owner.
The world can be a bleak place if you're homeless, filled with damp doorways and, if you're lucky, shelters that will take you in. It's an awful situation for anyone to be in, but when you're a veteran who put their life on the line for their country, it's a bitter pill to swallow.
US Coast Guard veteran Stefan DeArno found himself suddenly back in his hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, when his elderly parents needed his help in 2017. Desperate to be there for his parents but not able to live in their one-bedroom property, and with no money to fund an apartment on his own, the 56-year-old found himself homeless.
It was at this time that DeArno met a social worker who was able to secure him a spot at One80 Place, a special shelter that doesn't just offer to house people in need, but also gives vital training to its inhabitants.
According to Good News Network, DeArno decided to enroll in One80's culinary program to follow his passion for cooking - something he had inherited from his mother. Through the program, he was able to attend a local food and wine festival that brought chefs and restaurant owners together. Networking was strongly encouraged by the shelter, who hoped to give the residents some experience in what it was really like working in the sector.
In a twist of fate, DeArno met the owner of Smoke BBQ, Roland Feldman, and the pair hit it off straight away. A job offer ensued, giving the vet the chance he had so desperately wanted. However, neither Feldman nor DeArno - dubbed "Reverend", thanks to his black and white outfits - could have predicted what came next.
While cooking in the kitchen one day, DeArno accidentally poured heavy cream into a cornbread mix instead of buttermilk. The nervous gent feared he would lose his job over the rookie mistake, but Feldman wasn't concerned. Instead, he told DeArno to cook it up and see how the cornbread came out. The result was a deliciously unique bread that the entire team was impressed with, and a partnership formed between with DeArno Feldman.
The pair went into business together, creating the Reverend Cornbread Co. Thanks to the shelter, Feldman's job offer, and one silly mistake in the kitchen, DeArno now has a place of his own and his own business. He's even on the staff at One80 Place, where he volunteers as a tutor in the culinary department.
"Without hope you don't have anything," DeArno told Today. "One80 place gave me hope and an avenue, because dealing with what I had to with my parents, to do something that I really love, which is cooking, it was a relief, ya know."
He added, "To see people get satisfaction from something that I've created is one of the best feelings ever."