2016: A Look Back


Copyright Sarah Gilbert
In our early years, while we targeted job placement or further training as outcomes, we saw that our programs helped our participants gain confidence. We realized that intangible outcomes such as increased comfort in public speaking and confidence were just as important to getting jobs and advancing as hard skills are. Through the deli apprenticeship program, we realized that a longer format hands on experience would be more beneficial than our 6 week skills training for skill retention as well as for skills that could lead to more advanced positions in a commercial kitchen. While many of our participants wanted jobs in the food industry, many shared their dreams of opening their own food business.

Throughout this year there was a constant stream of news regarding the Syrian refugee crisis and the highly divisive Presidential election. There was much portrayal of refugees and immigrants in a negative light. It’s always been a part of the Project Feast mission to be a platform for intercultural exchange. This year, we were determined to take our community events to the next level.These realizations led us to creating an outline for Project Feast 2.0: a more intensive and longer culinary training wrapped around running a small restaurant and creating a myriad of opportunities for deep intercultural dialogue.

We ran into many challenges this year predominantly with finding the type of commercial kitchen space in South King County that would meet our needs and budget. This search confirmed the need for our type of programming especially in South King County. Our experience finding a space and experiencing the hassles of finding contractors for installing commercial hoods for instance, will make us better mentors for our apprentices and graduates as they follow the next steps to make their dreams a reality.

We’re excited to share that

1.     We found the perfect space for a small restaurant in downtown Kent and the necessary remodeling is now underway.
2.     Developed curriculum for a 4 month intensive culinary training program that meets for 5 hours every day.
3.     Gained accreditation for our apprenticeship program through Highline College.
4.     Launched Potluck for Peace and Migrating Meals
5.     Hired Executive Chef Lisa Nakamura
6.     Raised $25K in donations and matching and $70K for launching the apprenticeship program and building our capacity next year

Today, we are poised to launch the new apprenticeship program in mid January and open the café to the public in mid February. We look forward to a busy year with graduating many apprentices, deepening our partnerships, continuing our community events and fostering dialogue.

Your support has been invaluable. We hope you will continue to follow us, attend our events, hire us for catering, and invest in our platform for empowering refugee and immigrant cooks. 

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