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Summer Culinary Program Kicks off This Month Highlighting At-Risk Youth

Learning skills from some of Houston's best restaurants.

By Carolina Larracilla July 19, 2021

Homemade Hope and the Greater Houston Restaurant Association launched Restaurant U, a program that connects at-risk children to world-class eateries in the Houston area. 

Image: Homemade Hope

THERE'S AN ENTIRE WORLD'S worth of culinary experiences available in Houston, and Restaurant U is helping foster opportunities to the children that need it most.

“For so many of the children Homemade Hope serves, food can be a source of uncertainty,” says Homemade Hope's Executive Director Blair Bentley in a press release. “These children live in food deserts and don’t get adequate nutrition.”

That’s why the Houston non-profit decided to partner with The Greater Houston Texas Restaurant Association (GHTRA)—to design an engaging summer field trip program that allows vulnerable children ages 4–18 to gain insight into Houston’s thriving restaurant industry. From its very own first-class chefs, restaurant owners, and service team members, kids will be able to learn from these industry professionals while also getting to sample their first-class food.

The goal of these cooking demonstrations, cooking classes, and behind-the-scenes visits to restaurants is to encourage at-risk youth to embrace their community, cultural diversity through food, participate in career exploration, and gain valuable cooking skills and basic day-to-day professional skills necessary for any career. 

Chef David Cordua of Churrascos, assisting students in the Restaurant U program.

Image: Homemade Hope

"We want to show them how food can not only nourish their bodies and souls, but also can bring people together,” Bentley says. “Learning about the culinary world and restaurant business can empower these children in tremendous ways.”

Their first stop is Gatlin’s BBQ with Greg Gatlin, a Houston barbecue sensation featured in Netflix’s High on the Hog: How African-American Cuisine Transformed America.

“Our restaurant community is so excited about the opportunity to connect with young people through mouth watering food, mentorship, and interactive experiences that don’t just illustrate the professional opportunities that exist for them in our industry, but actually put them on the paths to seize them,” says GHTRA President Cameron James.

The Restaurant U Program kicks off this month and will run every two weeks this summer. For more information, visit www.homemadehope.org

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