News From the Kitchen
This past Wednesday, our Youth Development Program offered a career event that included a job fair and an exclusive Skills Share Round Table. Representatives from ShiftGig, MoPho, Pagoda Cafe, Creole Cuisine, Ruby Slipper, and City Greens came to the job fair ready to hire. Susan Spicer, owner of Bayona, Mondo, and Rosedale and longtime partner of Liberty’s Kitchen, also joined the event.
During our first ever Skills Share Round Table, Liberty’s Kitchen youth had the opportunity to hear from professionals in an intimate discussion setting. Employers discussed the importance of accountability, punctuality, and attendance for achieving workplace success, all of which are heavily stressed in our Youth Development Program. They also talked about the organizational culture and company values within their respective organizations.
The event was open to both alumni and current program participants and brought in a total of 17 young adults. Onsite childcare was provided during the event for parents who are seeking employment opportunities. Liberty’s Kitchen stresses equity and access to provide all young adults with the opportunity for success.
A huge thanks to all of the employment partners who attended the event including Donnie Middleton and William Owens from ShiftGig, Jeff Gulotta from MoPho, Shana Sassoon from Pagoda Cafe, Steve Lowry and Thomas Burns from Creole Cuisine, Becky Leone and Ethan Gardam from Ruby Slipper, Abhi Bansali and Justin Faulkner from City Greens, Susan Spicer, owner of Bayona, Mondo, and Rosedale and also to Kayla Paul Wiggins, Devon Turner (Youth Leadership Program Coordinator), and Dix Marie deLaneuville (Career Development Manager) for their assistance with childcare service.
Our next job fair and Skills Share round table will be held on Wednesday, April 19th.
If you are an employer interested in attending future job fairs and/or Skills Share roundtables, please contact our Career Development Manager, Dix Marie deLaneuville (Ms. D) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Posted by Rhea Lewis (Development Intern)
Last Thursday night, we transformed our cafe space with low-lit candles, crisp linens, and psychedelic Cambodian pop music for our March Guest Chef Night! Chef Mike Gulotta of Maypop, MoPho, and Tana at Treo took over the kitchen. Guests enjoyed a delicious 3-course dinner prepared by Chef Gulotta, themed around a fusion of Southeast Asian and New Orleans cuisine.
Guest Chef Nights at Liberty’s Kitchen are monthly fine-dining experiences which are open to the public and feature cuisine prepared by various acclaimed chefs in New Orleans. Liberty’s Kitchen alumni work alongside the chefs, giving them the opportunity to learn about the menu, various plating techniques, sample the menu items, and take part in the dynamic process of executing a fine-dining experience. Guests include supporters of Liberty’s Kitchen, community members, and our program graduates.
Guest Chef night honored two recent graduates, Devin and Jasmine, who both thanked everyone for attending and supporting the program. Another Liberty’s Kitchen alum, Darnell who graduated, in 2016 and works as an IT technician while he attends college, shared a few words.
“I love coming back to Liberty’s Kitchen because it feels like home to me and it’s like seeing my second family.” —Darnell, YDP Graduate C’16
Gulotta, who describes his cooking style as “Mekong Delta meets the Mississippi Delta,” created an exceptional menu. Favorites dishes of the evening were the chaat salad and the main course, palm sugar glazed pork belly paired with red beans in gulf shrimp, xo sauce and crispy rice cakes. Before serving his delicious “Maypop Tart,” Gulotta shared the intricate process of how he prepared the dessert. Guests savored every bite of the gingerbread-crusted five spice meringue tart.
Both Mike Gulotta and his brother Jeff Gulotta have been longtime supporters of Liberty’s Kitchen and are actively involved with youth initiatives in New Orleans.
“I love being a part of this event and this program. What Liberty’s Kitchen is doing is important for the future of New Orleans.” –Chef Mike Gulotta
Among the guests in attendance at Guest Chef Night were Liberty’s Kitchen Board chair, Matt Schwartz along with other attendees from the Domain Company, Patrick Bordnick, Tulane Dean of Social Work who brought a visiting group of students from San Antonio, and Ysaac Ramirez, Executive Chef at Ace Hotel’s Josephine Estelle Restaurant, a Liberty’s Kitchen employer partner.
Special thanks to West Elm for graciously providing the centerpieces and to our volunteers for serving our guests and helping the night run smoothly. If you are interested in volunteering at our Guest Chef Nights, send an email to email@example.com and include your name and phone number.
We hope you join us for our next Guest Chef Night which will be on April 20th and feature Chef Dana Honn from Carmo Cafe. Tickets are publicized via our newsletter and are limited so sign up here to hear it first. We can’t wait to see you next month!
–Posted by Rhea Lewis, Development Intern
This afternoon, Liberty’s Kitchen celebrated the graduation of Jasmine and Durrell from the Youth Development Program. At the start of the ceremony, our Executive Director, Dave welcomed family, friends, current students, and program staff for being here to commemorate the accomplishments of both graduates.
Dave then handed it over to our Culinary Training Coordinator, Tasheena who described how committed Jasmine and Durrell were throughout the program.
In particular, she shared how Jasmine and Durrell quickly jumped into their roles before receiving their culinary training due to a staff shortage in kitchen. And Jasmine and Durrell both stepped right up to the plate. “They pushed us through the time with lots of changes in the kitchen in their regular clothes, no training, and had a great can-do attitude when LK was short on staff,” said Tasheena.
Tasheena described Durrell as a mature, collected individual whose mantra was “I’m going to be alright.” Durrell is continuing on with Liberty’s Kitchen and working full-time with the School Nutrition Program at Lawrence D. Crocker elementary school. His supervisor at Crocker, Brandon, also praised Durrell and the potential that he has exhibited.
Tasheena described Jasmine as a “worker bee” who always wants to do more. During the program, Jasmine was hired and is working at Remoulade in the French Quarter. She has already been promoted and is continuing to exhibit an incredible work ethic. Her manager at Remoulade attended the ceremony and echoed what a valuable employee Jasmine has been.
Other Liberty’s Kitchen staff members, including our Social Worker, Career Development team, and Barista Trainer shared further words of encouragement and afterwards our Career Development Manager, Ms. D, presented the graduates with their certificates and culinary knife sets.
Afterwards, both Jasmine and Durrell thanked LK for giving them this opportunity and for their support throughout the program. The graduates were then welcomed to the Youth Leadership Program and Youth Leadership Council by LK’s new Young Men’s Voices have Power (YMVP) interns, Ahmaad and DJ.
Finally, our Director of Youth Success, Dennis, congratulated both graduates and delivered closing remarks.
“We are incredibly proud of you and we love you. We are looking forward to supporting your success and if you are willing to cross that finish line, we will be there for you. At Liberty’s Kitchen, you get what you put in; these two put so much in which is why they’re up here today.”
Jasmine and Durrell, all of us at Liberty’s Kitchen are so proud of you and excited for what your futures will hold. Here’s to both of you!
–Posted by Rhea Lewis, Development Intern
Parades are great, but there are 3 cool things happening at Liberty’s Kitchen right now that we can’t help but share.
Guest Chefs are popping up at our Broad Street café for special dinners every month. Susan Spicer and Candis Koerner launched our first Guest Chef Night on February 9, serving up carnival cuisine from Trinidad, Italy, and New Orleans alongside alumni of our program. You can come to the next one! March 16, we are welcoming Chef Mike Gulotta. Tickets here: bit.ly/GCNMarch
Family Table is the hottest free ticket in town. Our Executive Director and staff have been hosting biweekly dinners that bring students, alumni, and community members together around important themes. We’ve had guest facilitators like A Scribe Called Quess who lead deep conversations about the meaning of family, giving back, home, and legacy. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Our Youth Development Program is turbocharged. We’ve totally revamped the way we serve youth, just by moving pieces around a bit. We’ve reduced our student-to-trainer ratio by half and added baking, catering, and school nutrition tiers to our basic training model. We’ve even added classes on administrative functions like fundraising and marketing. Check it out by scheduling a tour with us: email email@example.com.
Stay in the loop for future coolness by joining our newsletter. Hope to see you at the café soon!
— Posted by Harry Schnur