New Orleans is facing a crisis of opportunity.

1 in 5 young adults in our city aren’t in school or working, but employers are facing a talent shortage. We bridge the gap, then keep working to build a better opportunity structure for and with young people.

We provide training and supports, connect youth to employment, and work with them over time to increase their earning potential and career options. For entrepreneurial graduates, we are developing ways for them to start a business of their own. We see every aspect of business as a learning opportunity, and every young person as a potential leader.

Nadja and Da’Mon are just two of many graduates who are using the skills they honed at Liberty’s Kitchen to achieve their versions of success.

<< Nadja and Da’Mon tell their stories

Youth Development Program

Ready to work. Ready to lead.

The Liberty’s Kitchen Youth Development Program is a 3-month work readiness intensive designed for New Orleans youth between the ages of 16-24, who are out of work and out of school. The program provides participants with technical and transferable skills training in a real work environment. Our team addresses barriers to employment ranging from housing, to mental health care access, to transportation. The objective of the Youth Development Program is to develop graduates with a sense of purpose and the skills, tools and opportunities to thrive in gainful employment.

Career and Leadership Skills Training

Trainees learn how to show up in a work environment, become part of a team, and practice essential interpersonal and social-emotional skills. Our life skills curriculum covers topics ranging from stress management to financial literacy.

Workplace Skills Training

We provide a safe and secure environment to learn basic culinary and employability skills through hands-on, real-world experience in our restaurant, catering, and food access ventures.


We provide support services and referrals to address needs such as housing, health-care, child-care, legal resources, and education. Trainees create Individual Life Plans and work to achieve them.

Job Search and Career Advancement Services

We work with graduates for a minimum of one full year after program completion to support job retention, continuation of any needed social services and/or completion of education goals.

Read more about our graduates here.

Turning Tables

Bar tending program.


Turning the tables with targeted skills training and compassionate leadership.

Turning Tables provides bar and spirits training to underserved youth in New Orleans, increasing their professional opportunities within New Orleans’ thriving hospitality industry.  The twelve-week program creates knowledge through a classroom component focusing on a weekly spirit and its cocktail family. Technique and industry insight grow through a mentorship program that places students with industry leaders in restaurant bars as they prepare for service.  Students also tour breweries and distilleries, meet with brand representatives and ultimately build the skills necessary to work alongside their mentor behind the bar during the last month of their training. Students here gain a vantage point that expands their understanding of restaurant management and hospitality leadership.  By creating the opportunity for individual professional growth, Turning Tables addresses industry-specific racial barriers while building a support system for the next wave of New Orleanians invested in their city’s strongest economic force.


Turning the tables on racial disparity in bar and restaurant management.

While New Orleans is predominantly populated by people of color, leadership positions within the city’s hospitality economy fail to reflect the diversity of the city.  Equal access to higher-paid, higher-visibility hospitality positions requires a commitment to the principles of equity both as an industry and a city. Turning Tables directly addresses inequality by creating the opportunity to put these principles into action in a way that creates a culture of access for young New Orleanians.


Turning the tables on workplace barriers for youth of color in New Orleans.

Turning Tables provides educational and hands-on opportunities that empower students of color to excel in spaces historically closed to them, removing barriers from leadership and economic opportunities for youth of color in (post-Katrina) New Orleans.  Participants gain the breadth of experience, networking knowledge and personal confidence necessary to remain active in their city and change the face of the hospitality culture in New Orleans.


Turning Tables is seeking mentors for our inaugural class! 

Our mentorship program is the key element of creating ongoing success for our students.  In 2019, Turning Tables mentors will assist in the professional skills development and hospitality education of a youth trainee during the twelve-week program.  This relationship will continue as the trainee begins their career, with the mentor providing support and guidance both behind the bar and within New Orleans’ hospitality community. 


Our mentors provide hands-on training and insight to our students in their own bars and restaurants.  This builds comfort and visibility for each student in a restaurant environment, growing their understanding of service and time management.  During training, there will be opportunities for them to create their new cocktails, interact with industry professionals and economic opportunities through events and pop-ups.  This builds a network for the student as they begin their career. Mentors continue to build this network alongside their trainee after graduation, with the shared goal of changing the face of New Orleans’ hospitality industry.  The mentorship component of this program is essential to achieving success for each individual student, as well as the community at large.


Training Spaces

The program’s curriculum relies on a network of bars and restaurants that provide access to different types of hands-on service industry experience.  These training spaces provide individual students with a weekly assigned externship opportunity and also unite the class with spaces to learn about different types of service.  Restaurant spaces allow trainees to become familiar with the flow of service from behind a bar, while the support of a classroom setting ensures their ability to build knowledge over time.  Events and pop-up opportunities provide practical use of new education and skills. Spirits training with brand ambassadors and liquor representatives prepares students for the logistics of developing a bar program and will include staff who can provide management insight. 



Turning Tables will include participation in Come Grow With Us, an annual gala dinner that supports Liberty’s Kitchen programming and honors the organization’s supporters and graduates. Award-winning chef Martha Wiggins will design 2019’s five-course menu, and Turning Tables participants will create three cocktail pairings. This celebration will not only provide students with the opportunity to get creative and hone their service skills – it creates an atmosphere of acknowledgment that places their ambitions within the context of the wider New Orleans community.