Though Emma’s Torch first opened as a pop-up in 2016, it now has a permanent location in Carroll Gardens. Since its inception, the Brooklyn-based non-profit social enterprise’s mission has always remained the same: “to harness the power of the culinary industry to help refugees build new lives in their new communities.”
Emma’s Torch Founder and Executive Director, Kerry Brodie, recently spoke with Steve Adubato about their current plans. During the interview segment for One-on-One with Steve Adubato, Brodie mentions one initiative in particular. Presently, Emma’s Torch provides on-the-job training to refugees, survivors of human trafficking, and individuals seeking asylum.
The Story Behind Emma’s Torch
Brodie and her team know that finding work is one of the hardest things for recent refugees. To help, Emma’s Torch provides these individuals with culinary training and ESL classes, as well as interview preparation.
“Really what we’re about,” says Brodie, “is empowering refugees to begin their own culinary careers upon graduating from our program.”
The idea for the program first came to Brodie while volunteering at a homeless shelter. Recognizing the unifying qualities of food, inspiration struck to develop a program that could drive social change through food.
Emma’s Torch looks for people who are passionate about food, even if they don’t have any prior cooking experience. Brodie emphasizes that individuals of varying culinary experiences can join the program; in fact, students don’t require any commercial kitchen experience at all.
“Our students start with us,” she explains, “and they come on day one, really excited, and they’re learning those basics. How do you chop an onion? How do you hold a knife?
“And when [the students] come in,” she continues, “everything that they touch, everything that they work on, ends up on our menus. So in many ways, when our guests come in at the end of the day, they’re eating our students’ homework, and it just so happens to be totally delicious.”
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Hero (Top) Feature Image: © One-on-One with Steve Adubato / Caucus Educational Corporation