News From the Kitchen


Emeril Lagasse Foundation + Liberty’s Kitchen

June 23, 2017 | Graduate Spotlight, Videos

The Emeril Lagasse Foundation provides support for youth to change their lives in lasting ways. Here are the stories of a few special young people whose lives have been touched by multiple programs that the Foundation supports. Watch this video of LK grad Nadja to see how organizations like the Emeril Lagasse Foundation and Liberty’s Kitchen, are working together to create a stronger New Orleans. Thanks to ELF for your generous support!

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Keith’s Pralines!

June 14, 2017 | Graduate Spotlight, Poydras

After Youth Development Program graduation, Liberty’s Kitchen alum go on to many different pursuits… sometimes even joining our staff! After graduating in 2011, LK alum Keith worked in restaurants all over the city including Commander’s Palace and Crescent City Brewhouse. Recently, he joined our opening team at Liberty’s Kitchen Poydras, where he works as a cook, producing classic hot lunch favorites for hundreds of people daily and even creating new menu items.

He spent hours standardizing the recipe for these delicious pralines and did a cost-analysis to prepare them for sale.

“Keith takes pride in his work and is very attentive to instruction,” says Chef Adam, Poydras General Manager.

In addition to his work as a cook, Keith is currently beta testing training modules for post-graduation education at Poydras for other LK alum. He exemplifies the Career Track training we’re implementing at Poydras, supporting our graduates to get to the next level in their career journeys.

Keith says,”I started as any other youth. I didn’t know where life would take me. So I understand the struggle they face every day. Liberty’s Kitchen gives them a way out. A way to change their own lives.”

We’re so proud of Keith and excited that we can provide another training ground for New Orleans young people with our new location.

Come try Keith’s pralines any day for just $2 at Liberty’s Kitchen Poydras!

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Congratulations to our talented Graduates!

Our recent graduates - Durrell and Jasmine

Our recent graduates – Durrell and Jasmine

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!

Durrell with his certificate and culinary knife set

Durrell with his certificate and culinary knife set

Jasmine with her certificate and culinary knife set

Jasmine with her certificate and culinary knife set

–Posted by Rhea Lewis, Development Intern

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Next Level at Liberty’s: Youth Leadership!

We are thrilled to be rolling out an additional eight months of “next level” support and programming for YDP graduates! We sat down with stellar Youth Leadership Program Coordinator Devon Turner to learn about what’s ahead.

LK grad Kiall, YLP Coordinator Devon, and YMVP interns Wil and Ray!

LK grad Kiall, YLP Coordinator Devon, and YMVP interns Wil and Ray!

Tell us about YLP.

The Youth Leadership Program is an 8-month extension to the training program. It’s all about building upon previous personal successes to cultivate their leadership potential and address issues within their families, communities, and city.

What does that look like day to day?

A lot of this is brand new, so we’ve been building out a structure for the YLP and developing new programming. I’m working with two great interns – Wil Cousin and Raynard Janeau – who came to us through the Kellogg Foundation’s Young Men’s Voices (have) Power initiative. Together, we’ve focused on building an alumni community in general and a strong Youth Leadership Council specifically.

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Wil and Ray with Mayor Landrieu!

Day to day, we’re creating a community of graduates across time and place. We have six key areas of engagement: leadership and civic engagement, education, career development, advanced hospitality exposure, health and well-being, and social engagement. Every month we want to offer at least one activity in each of those areas and have a monthly check in and goal planning session to which all graduates are invited.

What are some events you’ve had?

Our Youth Leadership Council held its first meeting in March 2016, and programming started in May with a career development workshop. We’ve had additional career development workshops, a demonstration with Chef Renee at Palace Café, another with Chef Chris Okorie, goal planning sessions, give back opportunities, and opportunities for alumni to engage trainees. In April, alumni participated in the Raise the Age campaign, which was part of the juvenile justice reform movement.  Youth Leadership Council members also participated in a leadership training offered by Harvard School of Government students and met with Councilmember Latoya Cantrell.

Chef Okorie's demonstration

Chef Okorie’s demonstration

Tell us about the Youth Leadership Council.
The YLC is a group of very dedicated grads who are creating and developing alumni programming, recruiting new participants, and taking on leadership projects. The Council is intended to redefine existing narratives of young people in this city. Narratives about young people who work hard, who have a different vision for what the city can look like, who are tired of crime and miseducation and violence and substandard housing and urban blight – those stories are treated as celebrated exceptions. However, our participants demonstrate that those stories are far from the exception.  They can speak very well about what this city could look like. My role is that of a facilitator and advisor.

YLC with Councilmember Cantrell

YLC with Councilmember Cantrell

Let’s talk future. What is the ultimate vision for YLP (one year from now)?

I’d love to see graduates who have really embraced a leadership role in their communities, who are really active in trying to address the social issues that affect them the most. In a beautiful world, they would be addressing those larger issues so they’re not just trying to survive from day to day, but tackling the issues that produce that kind of day to day living.

Harvard Leadership Training

Harvard Leadership Training

What does leadership mean to you?

To be a leader is to be someone who understands the day-to-day struggle and can transform that understanding into a call to action. As it pertains to YLP, we’re really helping graduates understand their strengths and their leadership potential, helping them to understand that being a leader is not something that’s dependent upon having “X” amount of dollars in your account or having achieved a certain level of formal education. We all can and should be leaders.

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