We are halfway through the year and excited for what’s in store for Youth With Faces graduates. Last week, several young men in our Culinary Arts program completed the eight-week long course and also received the National Restaurant Association’s Food Handler Certificate.
To celebrate the occasion, the young men and Youth With Faces Culinary Instructor, Chef Plummer, hosted a meal for Dallas county staff and teachers at Youth Village. It was a bittersweet day as the past few weeks have been a special journey for our students. They’ve learned kitchen basics, food safety, nutrition, and dozens of new recipes. They also received several hours of hands-on experience working alongside some of the best chefs in Dallas.
Six Youth With Faces students worked at our Field & Vine Chefs’ Dinner in early May, each shadowing a chef throughout the event attended by 150 of our supporters. The young men were paired with chefs Matt Balke, Bolsa; Jimmy Contreras, Taco y Vino; Matthew Ford, Billy Can Can; Jeff Harris, Americano; Franchesca Nor, Dive Coastal Cuisine; and Nathan Tate, Boulevardier and Rapscallion. This experience also included working in the industrial kitchen at The Statler where they were introduced to the various prep stations, advanced equipment and working both the front and back of the house.
“I now know how to operate machines I didn’t know about,” said Brian, culinary arts student. “I gained experience that I can use to go further in life and be able to prep, prepare and serve food. I might even try to get a job at The Statler Hotel!”
The young men arrived at the event early to prep food and serve passed appetizers to guests prior to the dinner. Each teen worked a station with the different chefs where they prepared gourmet dishes such as shrimp ceviche, burrata, crispy chicken thighs, roasted porchetta and several other side dishes and a key lime pie. They also learned to prepare the food for a family style presentation and deliver each course to the guests’ tables.
“I liked serving the appetizers and interacting with different people. Working the dinner also taught me how to be calm and take time preparing the dish,” said Jason, culinary arts student. “I learned how to pronounce the names of foods I’ve never tasted before that night. I think the experience prepared me for any type of job because of the conversations I got to have with people.”
The spring Culinary Arts course also included instruction from guest chefs and field trips where students saw successful culinary professionals in action. The class visited Franchesca Nor’s kitchen at Dive Coastal Cuisine where they learned how to make hummus and paella.
“I’ve really enjoyed learning about spices and flavoring, and how changing up just the spice can create an entirely different meal,” said culinary arts student Erik. “We learned how to cook a lot of food on a budget including veggie stir fry.”
“We are proud of this special group of kids,” said Chef Plummer. “It’s a wonderful to see them grow over the eight-week course. They leave the program a totally different person, with confidence and goals that will help them succeed when they go home.”
“This class taught be to be responsible and respectful and enjoy life. You have to work hard for the things you want,” Jason added.