After three weeks of hands-on culinary experience, six Horton’s Kids youth participants, aged 16-21, graduated from a special program at the Fairmont Washington, D.C., Georgetown on Saturday, February 2, 2019. Mark Huntley, Regional Vice President & General Manager, awarded each a certificate of culinary completion and their own embroidered apron at the program’s conclusion.
During the Saturdays prior, the youth had engaged in lessons with Fairmont Executive Chef Jordi Gallardo and Pastry Chef Charles Froke, in which they learned about food allergies and creating meals, and were taught food handling skills and some very specific culinary competencies, including how to debone chicken and fish, create chicken stock and make soup, blanch vegetables, and use a variety of pastry techniques.
“We have been working with Horton’s Kids for over a year now, fundraising for their annual Gala, back to school, clothing, food, and toy drives,” said GM Huntley. “We [also] wanted to create a meaningful experience for them through mentorships. That is why we created the Culinary Program.”
“We try to have as many opportunities as possible for our kids to actually be able to get their hands dirty — in this case, with sugar and flour,” explained Horton’s Kids’ Valerie Lewis-Taylor. “We already had a beautiful partnership with the Fairmont, and [so we] jumped at the opportunity to pilot this Culinary Program with them. It’s been really great to see the kids blossom and even translate the skills they have learned into their home lives.”
“All of it was good, but my favorite was the salmon,” admitted one youth participant as she recounted so many new things she had learned to cook and all of the skills she now possesses. “Plus, I’ve learned that I’m really good at taking directions, and if you tell me exactly what to do, I can do it.”
Previously interested in a career in the culinary arts, she was excited about signing up for the Fairmont’s program. “I wanted to explore options… and I think I might still be interested in this as a career,” she said.
Building on the success of the Culinary Program, the Fairmont Washington, D.C., Georgetown has plans for future career skills programs in partnership with Horton’s Kids. “The next program we are developing… is a course in Hotel Operations,” shared Huntley. “It is our hope that through these mentorship programs at the Fairmont, we will make a positive impact on the future for many young people in our community.”