Culinary program aims to give New York City migrants new career opportunities

Lucy Yang Image
Tuesday, January 30, 2024
Culinary arts program is preparing NYC migrants for the job field
Lucy Yang has the story.

QUEENS, New York (WABC) -- More than a handful of migrants in New York City will get the opportunity to learn new skills that could translate into a new career, thanks to a culinary school designed specifically for them.

Vicky Lopez, 23, graduated from law school in Nicaragua last year, but political unrest led her to New York where she is now learning how to dice red peppers.

"The opportunities I have been offered by this program make me feel like it's a good transition. I'm ready to move on to the next step," Lopez said.

She is one of 10 migrants chosen for a new pilot program with C-CAP, which stands or Careers through Culinary Arts Program.

For the next five weeks, some asylum seekers from Colombia, Ecuador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela will be taught the basics of food prep and hospitality.

In lesson one, they learned how to julienne vegetables and chiffonade basil. After their training, they will be placed in high-end restaurants while another group begins. There is currently funding for 50 migrants. All must have work permits.

"They're going to get benefits, good pay, and in companies like Union Square Hospitality Group which is an incredible company," said Tanya Steel, Executive Director of C-CAP. "I would love to work there."

If food is a universal language, the migrants are about to learn a new skill that could translate into a new career, in their new country.

"Professionally I don't cook. I have no doubt I'm going to do really well," Lopez said.

In the last three decades, C-CAP has taught more than 370,000 chefs. They work with teenagers, adults, those formerly incarcerated and now migrants.

"We're honored to have you here. Good luck in the weeks ahead," said Christopher White of the New York State Department of Labor. "When we're done, we stand ready to connect you to jobs."


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