Monday, August 15, 2011

If you can't stand the street, get into the kitchen

From CNN comes a report on New Orleans' Café Reconcile restaurant, which doubles as a job-training program that in ten years has prepared more than 600 young people to work in some of the finest restaurants and hotels in New Orleans.  Every 12 weeks, a new class is put through a “life skills” course where they learn interpersonal and work techniques, and then tackles the jobs of chefs, busboys, waiters, dishwashers and hosts.

(The New York City-based STREETS International runs an even more intensive "hands-on" restaurant-based training program for former street children in Vietnam.)

This article got us thinking about how New York City could benefit from more programs focused on preparing disconnected youth for the culinary industry.  Home to over 23,000 restaurants, the Big Apple is the epicurean capital of the United States and offers limitless opportunities in food service -- an industry that will frequently overlook a checkered past if the applicant has the right skills.  Although a number of organizations offer some culinary skills preparation, many will not accept individuals who do not currently have a high school diploma / GED, are not currently enrolled in school, or do not meet certain disability criteria.

If you know of culinary programs open to young people, especially those without a GED, please let us know in the comments below.

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