In 2008, Toni created Future Chefs to help youth discover their own ‘recipe for success’. She was able to secure a major seed grant to begin operations but months after its inauguration, the economic market crashed and Future Chefs was at a premature breaking point. Unwilling to give up, she worked tirelessly to win the support of several local foundations and individual donors and, as a result, was able to serve 46 students and provide $146,000 in scholarships.
The social need for the program was apparent and even amidst the greatest economic crisis of our time, it was a tremendous year of growth for Future Chefs. Formal partnerships were created with 5 post secondary culinary programs; a School-to-Career Specialist was hired to work with the growing number of participants and to support development of the program model; foundation grants were coming in; and students were leaving high school with plans for success. Future Chefs was thriving!
Future Chefs has served 200 students in the Greater Boston Area and is thrilled to be establishing a growing community of volunteers, institutions, restaurateurs, individual donors, industry professionals, and educators. With the number of students who are ‘working the plan’ (in professional jobs) increasing every year, Future Chefs is happy to have strong relationships with many local restaurants and employers including: Aramark Fenway Park, Ashmont Grill, Rialto, Hungry Mother, Highland Kitchen, The Elephant Walk, Tavolo Ristorante, T.W Food, The Seaport Hotel and many more. Support for the program has been generously funded by a number of prominent foundations and Future Chefs is proud to be recognized as a 2011 Social Innovator (Employment and Education Track) by the Root Cause Social Innovation Forum.
With the support of community partners, Future Chefs is transitioning from a successful start up to an established, small organization. As the organization expands the opportunities it provides for urban youth, Future Chefs looks forward to: building its outreach and capacity to serve urban youth by moving into a Boston teaching kitchen and home office; adding additional student services to create a more robust program; increasing relationships within the food service industry; and adding new and diverse sources of funding to support our ongoing operations and future plans.