Liberty's Kitchen is a social enterprise dedicated to transforming the lives of New Orleans' youth by providing a path to self-sufficiency through food service-based training, leadership and employment programs.
The Liberty’s Kitchen Youth Development Program provides underserved youth, ages 16-24, with the opportunity to build a better future by increasing their ability to change their situation and engage in a supportive community where they learn life, social and employability skills in a culinary setting. The intensive training program combines hands-on food-service training with classroom instruction, individual case management, education programs and job placement services and/or a return to an educational setting.
The vision of Liberty’s Kitchen is to give disadvantaged youth ages 16 – 24:
- The chance for an independent, inspired and productive life.
- A sense of purpose and confidence and the skills, tools and opportunities to thrive in gainful employment.
- Access to the resources to deal with those issues which have held them back – poverty, homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse, arrested educational achievement and/or participation in the justice system.
Our Board Members
- Mr. Matthew G. Schwartz, Chair, Domain Companies
- Ms. Denise Redmann, Vice Chair, Attorney At Law
- Mr. Jeffrey P. Good, Secretary, Jones Walker
- Mr. Douglas T. Ryan, Treasurer, International Offshore Services
- Westley Bayas III, Neighborhood Engagement Office
- Ms. Kristina Bradford, Whole Foods, Inc.
- Dr. Chandra L. Crawford, Gilead Sciences, Inc.
- Ellen Frischhertz, Community Activist
- Stephen Hanemann, Kean Miller
- The Honorable Calvin Johnson, Municipal Human Services District
- Kara Johnson, Community Activist
- Ms. Hope Goldman Meyer, Community Activist and Volunteer
- John L. Moss, Retail Specialists, Inc.
- Ms. Tiffany Oestreicher, Community Activist and Volunteer
- Ronald Pincus, Hotel Monteleone
- Mr. Scott Powell, Iberia Capital Partners
- Mr. Cleveland Spears, Spears Consulting Group
- Ms. Gail Wise, Southern University at New Orleans
Our Corporate Advisory Board
- Jeffrey Baron, Crescent Pie & Sausage/Pizzacare
- Joe Blanchek, Marriott Convention Center
- Craig Coenson, MD, Magellan Healthcare
- Chef Adolfo Garcia, Restaurateur
- Jil Greene, Harrah's Entertainment
- Janet Davas, Executive Director - Ms. Davas brings almost thirty years experience in the energy sector where she gained exceptional organizational and communication skills and business acumen. She returned to New Orleans post Katrina with her husband David and daughter Elizabeth, shortly before co-founding Liberty's Kitchen with Chef Hardie McDonald. Ms. Davas serves on the Tulane University Changemakers Institute Advisory Board as well as the National Advisory Board for Catalyst Kitchens.
- Hardie McDonald, Chef Trainer/Cafe Kitchen Manager - Chef Hardie has many years’ experience working as a culinary professional. Hardie has worked with youth in a number of environments in the past and brings a fresh perspective to our mission.
- Chris Brooks, Business Manager - Originally from Central Virginia, Chris moved to New Orleans years ago and has a wide array of experience in operations and management, from disaster recovery to school operations to high-volume industrial kitchen execution and management.
- Dee Schauer, Program Support Coordinator - Ms. Schauer has a passion for helping youth set and exceed their life goals. Her experience and expertise in the recruiting and customer service industries enable her to teach students transferable job skills that will give them an edge in their careers. Most recently, she worked with students in RSD high schools as the Program Manager for science programs. Her bubbly personality and professionalism make her an asset to the team!
- Alec Gibson, Chef Manager, Nutrition Programs - Chef Alec joined our mission in October 2012, and has created a dynamic synergy between our training curriculum and operations. Alec, an award-winning chef, brings with him a vast array of high volume foodservice and catering experience, has a strong background in menu development as well as training, and has a great desire to apply his knowledge to the development of our program participants.
- Dennis Bagneris, Program Manager - Mr. Bagneris, a husband and father of four, is a native of New Orleans and graduate of Xavier University. He has a great amount of experience in mentoring and supporting challenged and underserved youth, through other like-minded organizations and initiatives in the city, before becoming a member of Team Liberty.
- Latonya Mornay, Catering Manager - Latonya is a native of Mississippi and a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi. She has a passion for making a difference in the community and working with youth. Her experience with teaching and management allows her to connect well with our trainees.
- Charles H. Trapolin, Director of Operations – Charles was born and raised in New Orleans and after living away for 30 years, returned home in 2010. For 11 years he was a Partner and the Chief Operating Officer of Restaurant Teatro ZinZanni (a cirque/cabaret in San Francisco) and spent part of 2012 in Napa Valley opening the highly acclaimed restaurant, French Blue. In addition, as a visual artist his work has been shown in the US and internationally. He is very happy to be part of the Liberty’s Kitchen team in this exciting time of growth.
- Other Key Staff Members include: Todd Jackson, Chef Instructor/Sous Chef of Nutrition Programs, Paul Dyer, Chef Instructor; Syrena Johnson, Chef Isntructor; Brandy Robinson, FOH Manager/Barista Instructor; Jason Rardin, Chef Instructor.
Critical to its organizational plan, Liberty’s Kitchen is a model member of Catalyst Kitchens (formerly Kitchens With Mission), a Seattle-based non-profit working to build and sustain communities rooted in social enterprise and food service-based training. Liberty’s Kitchen remains an independent agency implementing our own innovative programs but benefits from Catalyst Kitchens' ongoing oversight and accreditation, shared resources and benefits including sponsorships (such as Starbucks), services, equipment and products.