Culinary market run by at-risk youth officially opens in Calgary

Among the first smells you encounter when you walk into Wood’s Homes’ new culinary market in Calgary includes fresh pasta, sauces and cinnamon buns right out of the oven.

It’s a new market in the city that employs young people who are at-risk, homeless or otherwise vulnerable and prepares them for jobs in the culinary industry. A head chef guides all the youths, aged 15 to 29, and all of the homemade food is available for purchase.

“What the market does is provide you with a basic life skill on customer service and how to run a store and how find a job in the outside world,” said 18-year-old Pranta Barua.

He joined the Wood’s Homes culinary program about a year ago and is now days away from starting his culinary education at SAIT.

“It’s really a good cause for troubled kids, kids who are just kind of lost and now need a start,” he said.

Wood’s Homes is a children’s mental health centre that has locations across the province and it supports 20,000 people every year. All of the people employed at the new market – located at 1008 14th St. S.E. – are enrolled in the Youth Culinary Arts Program (YCAP).

“I do not think I would have been anywhere close to anything good without the people and the mentorships I’ve had here. The journey has been long and this place is the place that got me to that point of going to school,” Barua said.

Not only are the youths learning how to cook, counsellors also help them find housing, employment and mental health supports.

“They’re young people that you and I know. They can be anybody. Some of them are struggling with their own mental health, some of them may be struggling with addiction, some are struggling with gaining meaningful employment,” said Dean Soenen, a program director at Wood’s Homes.

“I think young people are wanting a sense of something they belong to and that interests them. And I say magic happens in the culinary program when you have food.”

From fresh desserts to frozen, ready-to-cook meals such as lasagna and soups, the food is all made in-house by the youths in the culinary program and is available for the public to buy.

The market is open weekly Wednesdays through Saturdays.

View original article here Source