This week I got an even closer peek into what Farestart, my latest and greatest volunteer endeavor, is all about. I was first invited to a donor’s luncheon and tour of their facilities on Tuesday and then came back on Thursday evening for another Guest Chef Night unlike any other.
Tuesday midday I broke from work for a lunch and tour of Farestart. We began with a tour, highlighting the various kitchens and what each is in charge with, their computer lab, and dining rooms. We then were lined up for a fabulous brunch of a spring salad with fennel, cranberries and balsamic dressing, warm farro salad with bitter greens, a beautiful array of roasted seasoned vegetables (love!), Oregon hazlenut stuffed chicken breast (really good), and an assortment of cookies (dynamite) and a coffee station.
A presentation was then provided by several of the center’s staff, chefs, and graduates. I want to just highlight this center because I think it is so fantastic.
FareStart Mission: FareStart provides a community that transforms lives by empowering homeless and disadvantaged men, women, and families to achieve self-sufficiency through life skills, job training and employment in the food service industry.
Quick Facts: Over the past 21 years, FareStart has provided opportunities for nearly 6,500 people, while also serving over 5.5 million meals for area shelters and low income day care centers. In 2012, FareStart provided referral services to 837 homeless individuals and provided training opportunities to 242. Graduated 128 individuals in the adult training program and 54 youth in the barista training and education program. 88% of adult graduates secured employment within 90 days of graduation and six months later, 75% of those individuals still had those jobs. 98% of the youth graduates gained employment or went back to school.
Programs: There is the adult culinary training and placement program that has students train for 16 weeks every single day. It includes life-skill classes, housing, food, clothing, counseling, and is free to the individual although they are giving back to the community by preparing meals for the centers. There is the barista training program for youth, ages 16-23, including on-the-job training, life skill classes, and counseling. There is also a graduate support service that provides support and resources to individuals even after their graduation from the program.
Businesses: FareStart operates a restaurant during lunch hours weekdays, catering services, a cafe, the contract meals to area homeless shelters and day cares, and the guest chef nights to not only train the students in various tasks but to also help FareStart support program costs. FareStart has recently joined Catalyst Kitchens, a nation network of 39 members with a shared vision to empower lives through job-training, social enterprise, and nourishing bodies and minds through quality food-service. I still do not see a program for Detroit, but there should be!!
After that great session, on Thursday I volunteered my time and service to the weekly Guest Chef Night, featuring the chef from Teatro Zinzanni. It was like nothing I have ever experienced even in catering. Teatro Zinzanni is a dinner theater venue, used to catering three course meals, and they brought all the whimsy and fun of Alice in Wonderland, even a man dressed up as the Queen of Hearts. Take a look at the nights summary and menu if you can even make sense of the theatrics and bizarity that took place:
Teatro ZinZanni is part circus, part dinner theatre, and always magical. This “Alice in Wonderland” themed evening will include music, costumes and more as Teatro ZinZanni brings a bit of their theatrical style to Guest Chef Night.
A Night Behind the Looking Glass
The Story Begins…
Partially Painted Napoleon, Jerusalem Artichoke, Roasted Fennel and Sweet Pea, Chèvre Compote
A Journey Through the Forest…
The Edible Forest: Fiddle Head Fern, Dandelion Greens, Wild Mushrooms, Spring Onions and Peppery Flowers
The Church Mouse Bounty: Young Chicken Stuffed with Roasted Heirloom Tomatoes, Smoked Aged Gouda and Caramel Sweet Onion Served with Ginger Carrots, Roasted Beets and Whipped Garlic Yukons Topped by Maple-Bacon Gravy
Sweet Ending…The Queens Stolen Treats: Warm Treacle Tart, Vanilla White Chocolate and Milk Chocolate ‘Eat Me’ Cakes, Sipping Chocolate, and the Queens’ Hearts
Needless to say the night was awesome, delicious, and fun. I got to wear a little hat and eat the most creative food menu I have ever tasted.