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On any given night in Los Angeles, more than 2,300 transition-age youth (TAY) experience homelessness. Ages 18-24, most have been abused, neglected, orphaned, and left to fend for themselves on the streets. They often lack social and life skills, any goals and direction, which can lead to a grim future.

Thanks to the support of Elan Shukartsi and Leslie Joseph, eight of these young adults at Covenant House in Hollywood are enjoying our Culinary Arts workshop. During 16 sessions, they’re learning a variety of cooking techniques like shocking and blanching vegetables, the USDA grading system, the best sauces, along with many ways to prepare eggs. They’re also taught about safety, sanitation and nutrition.

Our students made Salmon en Papillote (pictured) and halibut fillets. Their favorite dish is lobster with king crab legs… the first-taste of such delicacies for most of these youth. Desserts include chocolate cake and tarte tartin, which were served to our special guests at Create Now’s VIP Luncheon on August 3rd.

Student Oscar remarked, “I’ve been learning to cut potatoes and peel shrimp, fillet fish and sauté it properly with different seasonings, and then placing it in the oven for baking. I’ve never baked fish before and it’s very delicious! As soon as I get a home, I’ll use these new skills all the time.”

A young woman shared, “I get to learn different things to take with me when I move out of here, like how to cook properly and wash my hands like in a restaurant. They teach me how to be like independent. I didn’t know how to cook before and I love it.”

Chef Edward Bullard commented, “Programs like these are important because they allow the youth to feel a sense of importance due to the level of direct attention they receive. The students are provided with a chance to see a capacity to learn new things and to visually associate themselves with productivity. To create something delicious and beautiful is truly a gift.”

After our program culminates on October 3rd, these students will have the opportunity to take a test for their Food Handler’s License at Create Now’s facility. We’re so grateful to Elan and Leslie for making this program possible.