Supporting Future Chefs of Color

Red Rooster boasts 150 local employees, founder Marcus Samuelsson says, plus another 50 contractors. (Photo by Adi Talwar via City Limits)

Red Rooster boasts 150 local employees, founder Marcus Samuelsson says, plus another 50 contractors. (Photo by Adi Talwar via City Limits)

A thriving restaurant industry in New York City means a great demand for chefs. “But is this demand making its way to chefs of color or those from lower-income neighborhoods?” Batya Ungar-Sargon asks in a City Limits article. She examines initiatives in the city aimed at diversifying the field.

Marcus Samuelsson, chef and owner of Red Rooster in Harlem, believes that with diligence and determination, a person can make it in the industry regardless of how much training or education they initially have. He recently became co-chairman at the Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP), a nonprofit that connects underprivileged students with career opportunities in the restaurant industry and provides them with training and support.

Also mentioned is the James Beard Foundation. The organization, named after the food writer, provides scholarships to aspiring students. Its director of educational and community programming, Diane Harris Brown, tells City Limits:

”There was a time in this country when almost everyone who worked in the kitchen was African American, and people did not have the respect that they have now. Chefs were not rocks stars. There was no food television. There’s been a real sea change, and it would be nice for everyone to be able to take advantage of that.”

Ungar-Sargon addresses what could be the primary hurdle preventing many from going after a career in the food service industry – a livable wage.

Chef Thomas Smyth, director of the Culinary Arts Program at Kingsborough Community College, says, in that regard, the field “needs to change to survive.”

Read more from Smyth on the wage issue in the full story at City Limits.

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