For almost a decade, Heat of the Kitchen has been serving 50 youth every year at Ida B. Wells Continuation High School with engaging culinary and hospitality activities . This is an overview of our program as it relates to our larger vision of creating a similarly driven youth “hub” in the Civic Center area which we are currently calling PRACTICE.
The skills we most value in life come from our experiences, not from our thinking. Providing a positive place for our youth to practice and experience their skills will better help them connect and succeed.
Cooking and eating together is a powerful experience. When you ask someone about a favorite memory, more often than not it is around food. It opens doorways both subtle and tangible.
We place this cooking experience within the theme of professional practice. For teens it is a perfect combination because it is a positive, energetic and respectful environment that they love. It is real.
Students step into our kitchen and work with us for about 60 hours each, preparing and participating as they would in many of our better restaurants in our city.
Along with this professionally minded cooking, we weave in additional learning experiences, relating to other job and life skills so that they are able to graduate with confidence for their futures.
Our weekly “prep” regularly builds to a professionally plated meal we enjoy together, discovering hospitality and building a sense of belonging and sense of self, along with many transferable, in-demand skills. Our significantly higher class attendance rates compared to continuation school averages and student “culture & climate” data support us in knowing that our efforts are valuable.
Most importantly, our students sense their own value in ways that open up their ability to build the inherent, limitless potential we each have. Few things are more powerful than getting in touch with your own value.
Skills such as team building, resilience and communicating well under pressure can only be learned through experience.
In our pop-up events, students get a taste of what it is like to combine all these seemingly invisible skills into a tangible experience that in turn builds pride and links to the amazing power of true hospitality.