A French fine-dining restaurant in Ohio,US, is giving former criminals a second chance at life and teaching them new skills.
Edwins offers a 6-month program that allows former criminals to learn valuable on-the-job skills, learning food prep, wine education, and how to handle dinner services.
Over 200 students have already passed through Edwins’ scheme, which was started by the owner Brandon Chrostowski. Brandon dreamt up the program when he realized it could have helped him in his own troubled youth.
“I was a reckless teenager,” he remembers, “One night, I was arrested and thrown in jail. Fortunately, I had a judge who gave me a break instead of 10 years in prison.”
“When I was on probation, I met a chef who mentored me, and once I was in that kitchen I knew that’s where I belonged for the rest of my life.”
And Brandon’s program is working — 90% of Edwins’ grads are now in permanent employment.
Edwins’ trainees received 40-50 hours of experience a week, as well as daily lectures, and taking part in nightly food services. They’re paid for their work and receive a share of donations left by diners instead of tips.
Out of over 200 former criminals who’ve passed through the Edwins’ training scheme, not a single one has reoffended.
Always trying to better the program, Brandon is now looking into building a dormitory to house trainees who can’t afford reliable housing, and also hopes to provide transportation to help people who’ve fallen on hard times get back on their feet.
“Edwins is a family,” he says, “There’s a spirit here where we’re in this together. To have a second chance is to have a new life.”
You can find out more about the restaurant and the course at their website.