Teens learn culinary skills, create entrée for Woodlawn restaurant's menu

Evelyn Holmes Image
Tuesday, June 13, 2023
Teens learn culinary skills, create entrée for South Side restaurant
Culinary arts apprentices at the Gary Comer Youth Center created an entrée for Truth Be Told restaurant in Woodlawn, Chicago.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A local chef is helping some young culinary arts apprentices sharpen their skills in the kitchen.

The student chefs are learning how to create a variety meals. One dish will be served at a restaurant in the city's Woodlawn neighborhood for an event that benefits a local youth center.

Aspiring chef Ashante Wilson is getting all the ingredients for success.

"It was very great. Having two professional chefs teach us how de-bone a chicken, and teach us how to make scones; it was really something to look at," Wilson said.

The 16-year-old high school student is among those learning cooking and kitchen skills as the Gary Comer Youth Center culinary arts program in Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood partners with neighbor Truth Be Told restaurant at The Study Hotel to create a unique entrée for the eatery's menu.

"Everything's available for us. Getting people again, to go from raw product to a finished dish, something we can put in a restaurant," said Anthony Bernal with Truth Be Told Restaurant.

This is what this group of culinary arts apprentices came up with: grilled chicken breast with a corn fritter and English pea succotash. The dish will now be on the menu for lunch and dinner for the next 10 days. Fifteen percent of the proceeds will be donated back to the center.

Veggies, herbs and fruit came from the center's own farm. It's nearly two acres and also harvests honey from bees.

"They are able to be independent young adults, and it gives them opportunity to see that investment in themselves," said Remington Price with the Gary Comer Center.

The culinary apprenticeship program began in 2006, when the center located near 72nd and Ingleside Avenue opened its doors. The center employs nearly 100 young people and serves thousands every year.

Not only did the students collaborate on creating a main dish, but they go an opportunity to learn how to make fresh baked scones as well as a yogurt parfait.

Pastry chef Elaine James took the students through the paces. The students have been invited to dine at the restaurant and tour the kitchen, something 17-year-old Lamyia Rogier said is just the right ingredient for her success.

"It's a nice experience to be around people that are around my age and be able to do that, and really see it go somewhere, like in a restaurant," Rogier said.