We've had some nice coverage from Keith Vass of Vic News and Jason Brown of Monday Mag.Victoria News
Cooking up a future for troubled youth
doesn't make it easy to link to a static page so here is what they wrote (it's in the lifestyles section) Cooking with Hope
By Jason Brown
Jun 04 2008
Youth Hospitality Training Centre offers at-risk youth a chance
Sometime soon you might find yourself driving down Herald Street past the distinctive white dome of the old Taj Mahal Restaurant and wonder about all of those young people streaming through the doors of the formerly vacant building. These would be the very first participants at the Youth Hospitality Training Centre, which began partial operations on May 1. The YHTC, an initiative of the Youth Empowerment Society, accepts at-risk youth into its programs and provides a complete package of life-skills training, addictions services, transitional housing and classes designed to find participants employment in the restaurants and hotels of Victoria’s booming hospitality industry. When brought fully online over the next three years, the Centre will see 80 students per year graduating from its halls and instructional kitchens.
The seeds of the Centre were planted several years ago when Pat Griffin—who heads up YES—and a UVic business co-op student were talking about the shortage of workers available to fill entry-level positions in local restaurants. YES has a hand in a number of different projects in support of youth at risk in Victoria, and Griffin made a connection between this need and a possible supply of workers. “Some of the people we see were almost there,” says Griffin, but what was needed was a bit of training and some sort of avenue to usher them into the system. Enter councillor Helen Hughes, who got wind of their discussion and arranged a meeting at City Hall between representatives of a number of different bodies—including YES, the Restaurant Association, the Hotel Association and Tourism Victoria. Three Point Properties offered up a cheap lease on a building and the YHTC was born.
Now that all of the big work getting it off the ground is done, it’s clearly time to celebrate the Centre’s creation. Sitting with Cara Segger (YES’s planning support officer) and Sean Sloat (Canoe’s assistant general manager) last Friday evening, the sense of excitement from the two was palpable and contagious. Together, with Hughes, they’ve put together Appetite for Change, a fundraiser and launch party for the Centre to be held at Canoe Brew Pub on Sunday, June 8.
Canoe’s involvement is a no-brainer, says Sloat, considering that the popular waterfront restaurant will also be a likely landing spot for YHTC graduates. Plus, located just down the street from Streetlink, Canoe is particularly aware of the pressing need to be proactive about issues surrounding homelessness, poverty and addiction among the young. “We realized we had a role in dealing with the stewardship of this area,” says Sloat, “and wanted to do something besides rattling the cage at City Hall.”
“The Centre has received big support from so many people,” says Segger. And Appetite for Change is no exception. Canoe is bearing all costs for the event, several other restaurants have stepped forward with dinner-for-six party packages for a silent auction and free music is being offered by both Mike Lefebvre and Emily Braden. Segger, who YES has brought on specifically to oversee this event, has been deeply impressed with the level of support it’s received. “It’s really brought out the best in people,” she says. “There’s been no anxiety at all from a fundraising point of view.”
In the end, of course, YHTC is all about its students. And while it’s too early to judge the effectiveness of the Centre, Griffin says the response from youth he’s had contact with has been very positive. “They see it as a lifeline to getting off the street,” he explains. “Because we’re combining outreach, detox, housing and employment training all in one place, we’re able to take some of the more hard-to-place kids and really give them a chance.”
Off the streets and into the kitchen—cheers to that. M An Appetite for Change
6-8:30pm Sunday, June 8
Canoe Brewpub, 450 Swift
Tickets $50 at City Hall, Bay
Centre (customer service desk),
venue, 383-3514 or firstname.lastname@example.org
canoebrewpub.com • 361-1940
Thai Crusted Crab Cakes (serves 4 as an appetizer)
Alain Léger, executive chef at Canoe, provided this recipe, which will be one of many items served up at Appetite for Change. (Léger will be serving these with Panang Curry Sauce, and if you’re interested in that recipe, just e-mail me and I’ll be happy to provide it.)
• ½ lb Dungeness crab—cleaned and well drained
• 2 tbsp red bell peppers (finely diced)
• 2 tbsp yellow bell peppers (finely diced)
• 2 tbsp French shallots (finely diced)
• 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
• 1 tsp Sambal Oelek
• 1 tbsp mayonnaise
• 3 egg whites, beaten stiff
• 100 gr black Thai rice, pulverized to a fine powder and sifted (an electric coffee grinder works perfectly)
• Salt and pepper to taste
Sauté peppers and shallots in a little olive oil and reserve. Mix with all other ingredients but the Thai rice and the egg whites. Season to taste. Fold in the egg whites.
Form the preparation into small discs ½ inch high by 1 inch in diameter. Freeze a little to facilitate the handling. When they are hard enough, dip all surfaces of the discs in the Thai rice powder. In a fairly hot pan, sauté a few minutes on each side in vegetable oil.