Cooking with Purpose

As someone who loves cooking, and everything about cooking, I’m often drawn to learn about restaurants that are implementing new and exciting techniques, up and coming chefs with out of this world creations and of course, places that may be off the beaten path yet are so incredible, it makes going down that path an absolute must-do.

As such, when I stumbled upon mention of one such restaurant doing something different, I was intrigued.

In this case, though, it wasn’t because I’d heard their food was outstanding or that they’d come up with a new twist on a gastronomical delight.

Rather, it is because they’re presenting a unique concept to benefit humanity.. through cooking.

Emma’s Torch, based in the ‘foodie haven of Red Hook, Brooklyn’, they offers paid culinary training to refugees, asylees and survivors of human trafficking. The eatery tailors its learning program to meet the unique struggles these groups face when they come to America and aims to place its students in restaurant jobs within a month of completing the program (1). 

Huffington Post explained in an article yesterday that typically, upon arriving in the US, refugees usually receive federal assistance for four months, which is supposed to be enough of a buffer for them to learn English and land a job, but usually, it’s not.

Most refugees struggle to find work in that window of time, go on welfare and then often have to decide whether to take a job that pays less than welfare does and offers fewer benefits, or continue to live off of government handouts.

Programs like this, however, offer a ray of hope in the form of a real opportunity doing something that will allow one not only to develop a career, but to revisit something that in my opinion, is something we as humans can all benefit from learning to do: cook.

To think that for many, cooking has become a burden, a task, a mere chore to add onto the list, right along with mopping the floor.

Can we reframe our perception of cooking, preparing real food for ourselves and those we love in a different light?

A welcome job for some… but a fundamental need for all of us.

If we cook more as a society, we can decrease demand for processed foods, increasing accessibility for real, local, sustainable food.

It’s stories like this that remind us how it’s all so tied together; supporting humanity, supporting the planet and each of us doing our part.