Fresh Chefs Society focuses on education and empowerment in their programs.
Ashley Cherry (Program Coordinator) hails from central Texas and has 20 years of experience working in many facets of the food service industry. She studied holistic nutrition and found her love of cooking and nourishing others while working for LifeWorks’ residential food service department as a cook and then as the Food and Wellness Coordinator. It was there that she helped pilot Fresh Chef’s first programs. She spends her free time relaxing and goofing around with her husband and toddler.
2017 will mark Fresh Chefs Society’s fifth year of empowering youth through food. We’ve learned so much about what is truly needed and wanted by our youth. So what’s next? Something very exciting – a new way of connecting community to youth through food and creating experiences that enrich their lives, enhance their connection to food and give them important life skills.
Fresh Chefs Society coordinates a series of educational seminars for youth transitioning out of foster care in various settings in the community, such as in food centers, restaurants, markets and private homes. The seminars include lessons in basic cooking skills, preparing meals on a limited budget, introduction to local food sources and the connection between food and culture.
The Guest Chef program invites chefs to lead an interactive cooking demonstration with the youth at their transitional living facilities. Chefs will not only introduce and model basic cooking skills, but they will also have the opportunity to share and discuss why they have chosen the culinary arts as their profession.
Home Cook Mentor Program
Youth are paired with a community member for a 1-on-1, monthly recurring cooking experience. The mentor encourages the youth to take an active role in their eating lifestyle by allowing the mentee to select each meal, supplying the mentee essential cooking recipes, utensils, and pantry items while exploring the food community around them as they prepare their meal together. Youth also have an opportunity to experience cooking and sharing a meal in a home-like, family setting.
The Apprentice Program offers a safe space to develop soft, pre-employment skills through a series of cooking-related learning experiences including in depth classes with local restaurants, chefs, farms, and other community food experts. Meetings are youth driven and include cooking classes, demonstrations, kitchen tours, dining at local restaurants, grocery store tours, shopping and chef guest lecturers. A key aspect of the program is to empower youth through integrating skill development through normal Apprentice Program interaction such as maintaining communication, decision making and increasing youth engagement outside of their immediate circle. Each Fresh Chefs Apprentice will graduate with a shopping bag of skills including but not limited to: a completed food handler’s certificate, interview techniques and experience, and an insider’s view of working in the food industry. After six months, they will then become part of the Fresh Chefs alumni network, where we will continue to engage and empower them through food and our community.
It’s On Fresh Chefs
It’s On Fresh Chefs aims to celebrate achievements of youth transitioning out of foster care by taking them out to a meal of their choice at a community restaurant in support of that achievement. Fresh Chefs believes that recognition of their accomplishment and honoring their hard work will empower youth to continue on their path to success.