New Year, New Job!

Congratulations to Demetrius Agnew, who graduated from FFL in Spring 2016. While at FFL, he was a great leader in the kitchen, working hard, working fast, and working clean. 

Demetrius contacted us this past Fall to say he was looking for new work and see if FFL could help. We connected Demetrius to Ari Gedjensen, Kai Christian, and the other good folks at Mindful Restaurant Group. Their training model is to start new employees at Ari's Diner in Ivy City and then promote them to other restaurants as employees improve in knowledge, speed, and commitment. 

FFL heard this past week from Kai: "Demetrius is doing well.  I've very excited to have him as part of our team."

Welcome to FFL's New Chef Instructor

After a long search for our Chef/Culinary Instructor position, Food For Life (FFL) is excited to welcome Chef Karida Celestine to our team! She comes to FFL with more than 10 years' experience in the culinary industry, which included serving as Executive Chef at Union Station's historic B. Smith's as well as starting Sweet Bazil, a personal cheffing and catering company.

How did you get your relationship started with food?
For me, food runs in the family blood. I can remember all the different cooking equipment that my father would bring in the house! The day he brought in a wok to cook us an Asian dinner was so exciting for me as a child. My great-grandfather was an Executive Chef, along with other family members of chefs, sous chefs and more. When I was younger, I loved helping in the kitchen with meals and recipes, and my passion just grew stronger.   

How would you describe your cooking and teaching style? 
I cook with love, intention, and presentation. People eat with their eyes first so its really important to make "sexy" plates. Teaching wise, I like to break it down so it's easy to understand. I teach so it's not just fun....you walk away enlightened and no longer doubtful of your skills.  I aim for the serious fun where the students can crack jokes yet stay focused and execute each dish in a timely manner.

Why are you excited to teach the FFL students?
I'm excited to teach them because I'm eager to see them grow, teach them to put out a product, and also to have fun doing so. It's easy to do it yourself, but can you share what you know and teach them to do what you've done? I love to help those who show interest and want to get to another level, and the students who applied and went through the application process are showing that they want to grow!

"A Restored Confidence as Sharp ...as a New Chef's Knife"

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With each student application, Food For Life (FFL) tries to understand what he or she needs in order to prepare them for the next best step.

Sometimes we get students who need the hard skills, the technicalities of good knife cuts, sautéing, and other professional cooking fundamentals. Other times, we get students who need a crash course in the soft skills, learning everything from consistency in attendance to how to accept feedback.

And every now and again, a student simply needs to know, even if for a little while, that there’s a place where she is welcomed and people care, a positive environment where she can learn and grow. That’s exactly what Florence “Flo” Amah needed.

Originally from Togo, West Africa, Florence and her family moved to the United States when she was five years old. A native French speaker, Florence’s English was originally not very good. In her school, students would make fun of her and give her swear words in place of greetings. They would also teach her other words to purposely get her in trouble.
 
Additionally, Flo has a nervous condition that occasionally causes uncontrolled tremors in her hands and stuttering in her speech. Because of her differences, Flo was bullied and teased by her peers from grade school to high school.

“She hasn’t had a lot of positive people in her life,” commented Flo’s godmother, Tracy Alexander. “When she walked across the stage for her high school graduation, no one cheered.” 

Tracy was the one who encouraged Flo to apply to FFL, since Flo loves to cook and wants to pursue work in the hospitality industry. To read the rest of Flo's story at FFL, click here
 

Congratulations to FFL Graduates!

Food For Life's mission is centered around equipping DC's young people to secure and keep meaningful employment. We teach, train, and nurture students for the work world, specifically in the feild of culinary arts. That said, we proudly congratulate the graduates of FFL's 11th training session: Demetrius Agnew, Alando Blount, Felicia Jackson, and Nigel Webber. See some pics from this session below!

These four students have worked hard in the kitchen these past nine weeks. From learning knife skills and learning from their mistakes, from prepping sold out dinners to serving FFL customers, they've had a ton of fun while gaining meaningful experience. 
 

Congratulations to them all!

Welcome back Food For Life!

Pictured from left to right: Marisa (FFL staff), Nigel, Alonte, Felicia, Alando, Linda (FFL volunteer), Tashawn (FFL staff), Ben, and Demetrius.

Food for Life is happy to be back in session for Spring 2016! Tuesday was a complete success with six new students. Students made roasted chicken, rapini, raisins, pine nuts, preserved lemon, harissa oil and a cauliflower puree. They also made a delectable dessert of cream puffs, strawberries and chocolate sauce that left everyone's sweet tooth happily satisfied! 

Food For LIfe students will be cooking up great dinners for the next nine weeks. Support their training by ordering a great dinner today or making a donation!

 

 

Welcome New FFL Staff!

Please welcome Tashawn Jackson as Food For Life’s new Program Assistant!

Tashawn first participated in Food For Life through the 2013 DC Summer Youth Employment Program and now returns to Food For Life through DC Career Connections. 

Tashawn is from SouthEast DC and first joined Food For Life in June 2013 through the DC Summer Youth Employment Program (a six-week employment program for DC youth ages 14-24). Since he completed the program, he has continued to connect with Food For Life through catering and summer culinary classes. In his new position as Project Assistant, Tashawn hopes to bring new insight and perspective along with a passion to help DC'S youth succeed. He also wants to bring a different level of understanding to the program since he's been where the incoming traininees will be. Tashawn graduated from Phelps ACE High School and later transitioned into The George Washington University.

In his spare time, Tashawn is a Music Producer, focusing on the overall artistry of music, integrating faith, and music, and human development. He's currently part of a Christian collective entitled The F.A.M. (Faith and Music), which initially connected through God and music and offically formed in 2015.

Important news from Food For Life

Food For Life is excited to announce that, as of March 1, 2016, we are now fiscally sponsored by the DC Social Innovation Project (DCSIP).

In our journey toward organziational independence, Food For Life recently registered as a separate DC nonpofit corporation. (Celebrate!!) While Food For Life is now an independent non-profit corporation, we are in the process of filing for our 501c3 tax-exempt status. The Social Entrepreneurship and Nonprofit Law Clinic of Georgetown University is providing pro-bono assistance in this filing process.

Until we receive our tax-exempt status, donations to Food For Life can be made through DCSIP, who will oversee our financials and ensure that all funds are being spent according to "charitbale and educational purposes." 

Food For Life had been fiscally sponsored by Care Company, a local nonprofit that served as our organizational umbrella as Food For Life developed its program capacity and track record. Without Care Company's structural support, Food For Life would not have been possible. 

Thank you to Care Company for the past several years of getting us started and helping us grow! Thank you to Georgetown Law Clinic and DCSIP for getting us to the finsih line!