I want to share with you a group that has really touched my heart, both the chef-heart and the teacher-heart.
My instructor, colleague and friend Neal Bermas has created a restaurant and training center in Vietnam to educate the street kids there in the hospitality and tourism industries. From the STREETS website:
STREETS INTERNATIONAL (“STREETS”) is a not-for-profit, sustainable, social enterprise initiative for street kids and other disadvantaged youth. It is an innovative program model that builds on the experience gleaned from successful grassroots charities such as Koto and Hoa Sua in Hanoi, Vietnam; Makphet in Vientiane, Laos; and CafeChavalos in Granada, Nicaragua. In Hanoi, for example, the highly regarded, sustainable and self-supporting Koto reports a remarkable 100 percent job placement rate for its graduates. Combining restaurant operations with education, training, housing and lifestyle support — STREETS has the potential to dramatically change the lives of the impoverished young adults it serves.
The trainees in the internationally credentialed training program will receive education in culinary arts, hospitality service and management, as well as life skills and “hospitality English.” The 18-month curriculum starts with orientation and basic skill training, then continues into the more complex areas of professional cooking and restaurant operations. At the same time, the trainee’s education transitions from observation in the restaurant’s kitchen and dining room, to increasingly independent interning in the various job functions.
Ultimately, the graduate’s greatest achievement is the empowerment that comes with the self-reliance they’ve achieved. STREETS’ objective will be to ensure that they are educated and well equipped to succeed in life and meet the demands of their new careers in hospitality.
There’s lots more information on the STREETS website, including how you can help. If you’ve been looking for a way to give back to your world, maybe this is the place you’d like to do it.