Food Can Change Lives: The Story of a Pop-Up Restaurant That Trains Refugees From Around the World

Food Can Change Lives: The Story of a Pop-Up Restaurant That Trains Refugees From Around the World


Emma’s Torch is a non-profit social enterprise. We provide culinary training and job placement services to refugees and survivors of human trafficking. And we also operate a restaurant where our students can learn on the job skills before beginning their culinary careers. So, they’ll always be up top. For so many of our students, they’re beginning new lives here. They wanna be part of the community, and that first step is to begin new careers. So you’ll give it a quick toss. When students come here to interview, we’re really looking for one thing, and that’s a passion for food. All of your mise en place is here in front of you. Our students go through a two month training program. They’re learning how to hold knives, how to chop things, how everything works in a kitchen. After that first month, they’re actually working in the line in our restaurant. My name is Mazan, I’m from Syria, and I’ve been at Emma’s Torch for 12 days now, and I’m learning a lot. My name is Tima, I’m from Russia, Saint Petersburg. Emma’s Torch can be just some kind trigger, you know. For to start to go to the culinary school, for example. I’m really thinking about that. My name Mahela Rillasa. I’m from Venezuela. I learning a lot working in Emma’s Torch. Put them right in a line, excellent work. So, one of the most amazing thing that’s happened, is that Rachael Ray has become involved. And she is offering furniture from her home line, and her design partner, Michael’s expertise, in making this space really beautiful. Paint everything. I used two colors, a really nice Rachael style greige paint, as she calls it. And then I also did just a decorator white. I painted brick, I paint wood, I paint concrete, I paint everything that doesn’t move. So a quick tip, when you’re doing some shelves. You want the color to be staggered across the piece, so you wanna zigzag to colors and finishes around, and then you wanna mix glassware, it doesn’t have to be exactly back and forth, kinda mix it up a little bit. So don’t be afraid of scale, look at the huge light fixtures I put in this space. Why I did that? You need high impact. When you have a small, nondescript space big beautiful light fixtures really set it off. So the most important thing is the space is beautiful and it’s bright and it’s useful, and it’s gonna serve Emma’s Torch for years into the future. Hi. Welcome to Emma’s Torch. The fact the someone like Rachael Ray, who is so gregarious and so warm, is helping us, sends a clear message that our students are welcome here, we are welcome here. And that what we’re doing has merit and is part of pursuing the American Dream. (audience clapping) Tell everybody a little bit about your story and how this has changed your life, literally the course of your life. So, I used to work in public policy and I loved that career, but I always had this crazy idea that there’s gotta be something that we can do with cooking to change the world. And so, I count myself lucky every day that I get to wake up in the morning and see the way that food can transcend borders. And are you any good in the kitchen, yourself? I got trained by my mother and my grandmother, and then I went to culinary school. Yeah. I’m very lucky. (audience clapping) Great work. Thank you. So, check out Emma’s Torch when you guys come to the city. You’ll probably see the two of us there. What an amazing project, I’m so proud of you. Thank you Michael for all your great work, it looks beautiful. (audience clapping and cheering)


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