Teaching kitchen helps New York teens find their passion, learn life skills

Oil pops within the scorching skillet over the gasoline range. A loud sizzle fills the room as his black gloved arms lay the flour-coated hen breast within the scorching pool.

Smells of broccoli, fries and the comforting spices of a home-cooked meal waft by means of the air.  

Three folks with hair nets and orange chef’s uniforms with crimson letters studying “Hawks Nest Cafe” scramble across the kitchen- prepping, battering, frying and plating. 

Akhi, Aaron and Thomas are studying to prepare dinner from a New York Metropolis chef at The Youngsters’s Village’s educating kitchen.

The Children’s Village started the educating kitchen in 2008 to assist younger folks find their ardour, stated Jeremy Kohomban president of The Children’s Village. The Youngsters’s Village in Dobbs Ferry offers community-based and residential applications for greater than 17,000 folks every year. This system works with underserved youngsters and households within the higher New York space, younger folks in foster care, teens who want a second probability and households who want higher instruments and assets.

The educating kitchen helps college students with communication skills, relationship constructing and pushes them to acknowledge their potential. College students are additionally taught menu planning, restaurant prices, find out how to order provides, wholesome portion management and desk etiquette. College students end this system with a ServSafe certification which may also help them to start out coaching for restaurant managing positions. 

“We found that connecting those young people to something that excited them was key to keeping them engaged with learning and eventually building a career,” Kohomban stated. “When it comes to working with young people looking to connect, you need to broaden the palette that’s available to them so they can begin to paint their own future.” 

Akhi, Aaron and Thomas prepare dinner alongside New York Metropolis chef Kelli Scott. Haeven Gibbons

The constructive suggestions college students obtain when somebody enjoys their meals helps construct confidence and self worth. It additionally offers them a way of safety, realizing they’ve a ability set they will use to earn cash.  

“For some young people being in the kitchen, learning, serving others is exactly what they need to put them on a path to being self-sufficient and enjoy life,” Kohomban stated. 

Akhi is a sophomore in highschool who has been at The Youngsters’s Village since Might. Earlier than working within the kitchen, Akhi didn’t know find out how to prepare dinner. Now, he desires to work within the restaurant trade after commencement.  

“My favorite part is when they get it and the look they have on their faces like they did that,” stated chef Kelli Scott who teaches the residents at Youngsters’s Village find out how to prepare dinner. “It’s rewarding to know that they’ve learned it, now they’ve done it and they’ve mastered it.” 

Akhi stated the kitchen has taught him all concerning the restaurant trade and concerning the side of working collectively. 

“It takes more than one person, you need a team to help you out,” Akhi stated. 

The monte cristo sandwich is Akhi’s favourite factor to make. 

“Before, I didn’t really like the kitchen but the teaching kitchen made me like the kitchen,” Akhi stated. “It’s more than cooking. It’s about being one with your peers and knowing I learned this in the kitchen, so I can take it out of here.”

On a Thursday evening in early November, hen piccata and barbecue ribs with potato croquettes and broccoli is on the menu. 

Barbecue ribs, broccoli and potato croquettes made by the scholars. Haeven Gibbons
Hen piccata made within the educating kitchen. Haeven Gibbons

“You have to add the chicken stock,” stated Scott as she coached resident Aaron on find out how to make the hen piccata. 

“I already added it,” Aaron stated.

“How many?” 


“Ok,” Scott stated. “Take the chicken out and put in the noodles and the sauce.” 

The pasta flies within the air and lands within the scorching pan as Scott reveals Aaron find out how to combine within the sauce with the noodles. 

“Plate please,” Aaron calls out to the opposite college students. 

The sauce burns within the scorching pan.  

“Let’s try it again,” Scott stated. “Get me another skillet.” 

Within the kitchen, the scholars make all the pieces from scratch, and Scott pushes the scholars to assume outdoors the field in the case of creating new dishes.

“The biggest thing is for us to develop a place that is comfortable for the mess ups,” Scott stated. 

Aaron is a junior in highschool. He desires to both work in a restaurant or go to cosmetology college after commencement. Aaron’s favourite factor to make is baked ziti or baked mac and cheese with pork chops and string beans.  

For some residents, like Aaron, the kitchen has grow to be an outlet, Scott stated. 

“So we don’t have as many behavior issues for people who work in the kitchen,” Scott stated. Including, “Aaron has grown a lot and is able to talk things out more. Cooking has a way of doing that. With cooking, you have to communicate.”

Aaron and chef Scott put together the noodles and sauce for the hen piccata. Haeven Gibbons
Aaron batters the hen for the hen piccata. Haeven Gibbons

Three nights per week the scholars prepare dinner an entree and a aspect to serve to different youngsters and employees at The Youngsters’s Village.  

From 4:30 p.m. to six p.m. the scholars apply the meals they’ll serve that evening. Then, they eat the meal they ready collectively and prepare for dinner rush. By 7:05 p.m. a line stretches down the hallway. The group cooks about 40 meals an evening, all made-to-order. 

Thomas, a Youngsters’s Village resident, takes folks’s meals orders and does the dishes. He loves baseball, particularly the Yankees and hopes to someday begin a shelter house for the homeless. He stated the educating kitchen has helped him with communication and realizing find out how to attain out.

 “This is my favorite part of the day,” Thomas stated.  

By the top of the educating kitchen program, the scholars create a full menu with appetizers, salads, soups, most important programs, desserts and drinks. The scholars then serve their meals to Youngsters’s Village employees who dine and order like they might at some other restaurant. 

Replicating the kitchen within the metropolis 

This educating kitchen shall be replicated at The Eliza, when it opens its doorways in 2022, to serve younger folks within the metropolis. 

Positioned at 4790 Broadway, The Eliza is a venture that may supply the Inwood neighborhood 174 reasonably priced properties, a brand new two-level public library department, a neighborhood studying area and a common pre-kindergarten facility operated by the New York Metropolis Division of Schooling. 

The Eliza’s educating kitchen will serve younger individuals who had been previously homeless or who’re growing older out of foster care applications which are in want of vocational skills in addition to anybody who’s in want of job coaching and monetary help, together with highschool college students who didn’t full highschool. 

“Not all of our children go on to academic colleges. A lot are looking for a vocational program and one like this is really quite awesome,” stated Yvonne Stennett executive director  from Neighborhood League of the Heights, a growth associate of The Eliza. Including, “Along with the job opportunities and along with the skills and building a business, it’s (the teaching kitchen) really trying to make sure that all young people are valued and loved and are given opportunities,” Stennett stated. “We have to figure out how do we serve the entire youth population regardless of their circumstance.” 

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