Incredible: Top Urban Restaurant Staff All Formerly Incarcerated

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Incredible: Top Urban Restaurant Staff All Formerly Incarcerated

Infectious passion at the intersection of redemption, hope, pride, and great food radiates off of Brandon Chrostowski like heat from the embers of a well-banked camp fire.  In 2007 Brandon founded a culinary institute, and in 2013 added  Edwins, a high end French restaurant in a downtrodden section of Cleveland with the unlikely business plan that everyone in both the school and the restaurant would be just getting out of prison.  Ten years later, he owns and runs the culinary institute, two restaurants, a bakery, a butchery, a community garden, and a block of housing for program alumni and their families, all staffed by people with prison on their resume.  They have trained hundreds of formerly incarcerated people in fine culinary arts and the restaurant business and sent them out to work around the country.  Prison recidivism rates for graduates of his program are about 1%.  Brandon won the prestigious James Beard Award for his contribution to food and people, and if you don’t mind shedding a tear or two, check out the short documentary, Sharp Knives, that was nominated for an Oscar in 2018.

“I truly, truly, believe that the perspective of incarceration is the most important perspective someone can have. I think very few people in this country, or in this world, find out who they really are. To find out who you are, you have to be alone, or without literally anything, I mean, just bread and water and a spirit or a soul. You have to get to that point. Incarceration teaches you that for better or for worse, and you can build yourself back up correctly, and not just stay in a bad place. It can be the most powerful experience of your life. And now you have someone, a human being who understands themselves, their triggers, what the absolute feels like.”

“And that’s me, you can’t find the core of your bone or your body or soul through a book in school or college. It can educate you, but you’re still just playing around this force field of who you are, what you are, what you want. I want people to know that the perspective of someone being incarcerated is a valuable one. That’s what I want people to know.”

“My kids are young, eight, six and two. We don’t have television or video games. We live a life of each other and the world we live in and we talk, communicate.  Pacify yourself out of what mistake you made today, because you’re not gonna be able to look at a TV and feel sad to a sad movie. Get that emotion off your chest and say, ‘That’s what I did today.’  I make time for them. I’ll go home for for dinner, always sit down with them. They come in to the restaurant and hang out; the eight year old can clear tables, polish glasses; my little two year old will stir risotto all day long!”

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By | 2023-07-21T16:31:57+00:00 July 21st, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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