Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Original Fifteen

My post about the Basic Culinary Skills Training program at the YMCA on Charles Street went up today on Torontoist. It's an amazing job skills program that helps people on social assistance learn how to cook professionally and find jobs in the hospitality industry.

To research this piece, I spent several hours at their bustling kitchen in the basement of the YMCA, talking to the director, Kelvin Ramjattan, and instructors. All of them are former restaurant cooks and two of them, Dan Prewer and Adam Lariviere, left restaurants less than two years ago to begin teaching. What blew me away was how much they care about their students and mentor them to not only cook, but also cope with working and life in general. They help them figure out how to deal with conflicts, stress, gossip, language barriers, money, and countless other things.

Seeing these chefs run this kind of program day in and day out for 25 years is one of the most hopeful sights I've ever witnessed.

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