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Young chef welcoming his cooking class

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Kelly Brodie, owner of Emma’s Torch—a Brooklyn nonprofit restaurant and workplace development center that offers culinary classes for refugees—is hopeful she can help her students “see a better side of humanity.”

Offering the program for free, the restaurant partners with refugee resettlement and advocacy organizations around the world. The partners help identify refugees, asylees, and survivors of human trafficking to join the program.

l“It’s like a combination of what you would learn in culinary school and also what you need to access the job market in the U.S.,” Brodie told local news station Pix11. “Whether it’s as a culinary assistant instructor for a student who really wants to be a teacher or working in a high-end French restaurant for a student who really wants to work in fine dining, we have a wide network of supportive chefs that we send our students to.”

Alexander Harris, the students’ culinary director, said he “jumped” at the opportunity to join the program. “I thought that it was a great way to give back to the industry that made me the person that I am today,” he said, noting the “transformation” the students also go through.

The program’s graduates are working at restaurants around the city, including The Dutch, Little Park, and Dizengoff. In 2017, 100 percent of graduates seeking full-time positions were placed in culinary jobs.

“These jobs have enabled our graduates to build a better life for themselves in New York City,” the company writes on its site. “Some have moved out of the homeless shelters where they were living, others are making plans to bring their spouses and children to the U.S.”

Learn more about Emma’s Torch by clicking here. Want to support? Pop by for brunch or dinner.


345 Smith Street

Brooklyn, NY 11231


Brunch: Sat – Sun, 11 AM – 3 PM

Dinner: Tues – Sun, 5 PM – 10 PM