After 14 months at Restaurant IPO, Chef Chris Wadsworth is switching gears, working with his wife, Sommer, to help the community’s food service industry and inner-city youths.
In three months, the Wadsworths are hoping to welcome their first students in the culinary education program, Triumph Kitchen. Construction on renovating the facility will begin in the next weeks in downtown Baton Rouge and will include a 2,600-square-foot kitchen with the ability to accommodate 65 students as well as a meeting space, classroom and coffee bar.
The program will be available to 16-to-22-year-old youths who want to be in the food business. Wadsworth says semesters will run for 12 weeks and students will learn a bit of everything.
“The students will learn how to make it in the kitchen and how to handle the pressure when the ticket printer goes off,” he says. “They’ll get full culinary training, learn about sanitation and get experience in big order catering and made-to-order atmospheres. They’ll spend the first four hours of the day with me. Then, they’ll spend about three hours with [Sommer], learning life skills such as learning how to fill out an application, family budgeting and other basic things these kids aren’t going to get from their home life.”
Wadsworth says toward the latter part of the course, he will take students on a two-week job placement program. The service is provided for free to students. However, those interested will go through an application process.
Triumph is a non-profit, and Wadsworth says the organization’s success rely on community support. Already, he has a veritable who’s who on his roster of supporters, including Tin Roof Brewing Co., Community Coffee owner Matt Saurage, chef and 225 blogger Jay Ducote, John Snow of Taco de Paco, local filmmaker and television producer Tommy Talley, Charles Pierce of Me and My Big Mouth podcast and Molly McWhorter of 2 Hundred Oaks Brand Management.
Wadsworth says there will be fundraising events in the future to get the educational venue moving in the right direction. He believes the entire city’s food industry will benefit from Triumph.
“When I came in, I came with a desire to make a difference downtown and in this culinary scene,” he says. “I have a desire to change the culinary scene here. Being downtown was one of these things that I’m not giving up on. I’m going to continue to help it, feeding my immediate neighbors with staffing. We want these kids to be proud of where they are. We’re a big family building this thing, helping each other out.”
More information will be available online at triumphkitchen.org. —Matthew Sigur