Kitchen Studio “Pays it Forward”

Kitchen Studio “Pays It Forward”

Wed 24 Jul 2013

Story by Itai Farkas

When people say “Restaurant Cook” - what does that mean to me?

“He has a twinkle in his eye when he sees the ingredients that will soon make a meal. He can imagine what that the dish will look like, what it will smell like and most of all - what it would taste like when he’s done with them. He loves the hard work and lives for passion that ignites in the eyes of the people eating the food he prepared; knowing what put their plate makes them happy and healthy.”

As CEO and Head Chef of Kitchen Studio I try to teach that to at-risk populations. I try to get them to feel the spark. Part of that is exposing them to the multitude of possibilities the professional kitchen holds for them – color and flavor, a respectable profession, fun in creative, normative environment. This is a real opportunity to live differently.

Teaching Cooking Classes to At-Risk Populations

Kitchen Studies teaches professional cooking classes to at-risk populations. We use portable kitchen units so that we can reach them wherever they are – schools, youth centers, community centers and more. This enables us to work even in poor, out of the way locations that have no facilities. Our activities are partially sponsored by the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Social Affairs and other socially minded organizations who believe in the great work we do and see how obtaining professional training can change an individual’s life for the better.

We work in small groups of up to 15-20 participants. That way our students can take an active part in the class and get the sort personal attention that isn’t usually available to them.
Our team is comprised to professionals, chefs trained by working in gourmet kitchens. They are chosen for their ability to reach and connect with the people they work with and for their high level of values and uncompromising positive spirit.

To increase motivation and create a real opportunity for change, we help the best students obtain internships in Israel’s leading restaurants and assist them in securing employment.

So far over 1,000 young people completed our courses, and more than 450 of them continued their training by persuing an internship in a restaurant and the majority of them are still employed. Moreover, Kitchen Studio is proud to have seen many of the young men trained in its course leave the life of crime they were embroiled in – stay out of prison and recover from drug addiction. Other projects included helping disenfranchise populations such as orphaned refugees immigrated from Eritrea and Sudan.

Professional, Affordable and Accessible Training

Kitchen Studio offers a variety of activities, such as Iron-Chef like competitions with an emphasis on healthy cooking. These activities enable us to offer professional, affordable and accessible training available anyone motivated to make a change and learn a profession. We even offer scholarships for youth who cannot access our courses otherwise.

Each lesson and activity emphasizes healthy cooking. We promote the use of fresh ingredients when available, and show how simple it is to make yourself what you want to eat. Beyond learning a profession, this enables our students to bring the love for healthy food to their homes.
Israel took part in Food Revolution Day for the first time this year, teaching a mass-cooking workshop for youth in schools, with a method of "Pay It Forward". In addition, in order to give significant added value for graduates of our course (youth at risk), we decided that this time they would be the guides that passed a short workshop manuals learning simple and delicious dish for another teens.

Another cool thing we are planning to take part of, for our partnership in creating long-term and lasting change - Kitchen Studio training course for underprivileged girls, and help them open a bakery in their school. The goal - supply the school with baked goods and sell the surplus to other organizations, thus creating additional revenue for the school and the girls. Following the successful take off of the bakery endeavor, we intend to implement this model in other areas as well.

About the Author: My name is Itai Farkas, chef. I am CEO and Head Chef of Kitchen Studio. I bring with me extensive experience in the field of training and education and 10 years of experience working in the top kitchens in the country. I really feel I'm bringing the Food Revolution in my locale every day. And it’s fun!

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