Empowering Refugees at Emma’s Torch

Founder and executive director of Emma’s Torch Kerry Brodie (left), poses with culinary director Alexander Harris (right). (Photo by Giada Randaccio Skouras Sweeny via Brooklyn Daily Eagle)

Nearly a year after it first opened as a pop-up in Red Hook, Emma’s Torch will continue its mission of training refugees, asylees, and human trafficking survivors in the culinary arts at 345 Smith St. in Carroll Gardens, its new permanent space.

In a story for Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Scott Enman speaks to the restaurant and nonprofit organization’s founder and executive director Kerry Brodie.

“I thought that food could really be a beautiful conduit of helping people rebuild their lives but also showing that food and cooking is a universal experience,” said Brodie, a Park Slope resident.

“The hope is that sharing meals can help people recognize the common humanity in the newest members of our community.”

The two-month culinary program pays its students to learn how to cook, teaches them English and helps its graduates find employment at other restaurants.

For the first month, students are taught preparation skills such as taking stock and learning how to dice vegetables. During the second month, students work on the kitchen line, gaining experience with and learning the skills associated with each dish. “Everything that they’re creating ends up in some capacity on the menu,” Brodie said.

For more on the historical inspiration for the name “Emma’s Torch” and how a student from Venezuela benefited from the program, go to Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

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