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July 9th, 2018
Emma is not the owner of Emma's Torch but actually a reference to Emma Lazarus, an American poet who wrote The New Colossus. Of course that is the sonnet that is inscribed on the Statue of Liberty and is representative of new immigrants arriving in this country. We discuss the journey and hardships of the historic immigrants on our Tenements, Tales, and Tastestour. But the story continues.
Refugees and immigrants continue to arrive on these shores from places like Syria, Guinea, and Venezuela, and they make up all that's great with this country. But it is far from easy for them. So Kerry Brodie, a trained chef and prior Global Press Secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, decided to create an opportunity for newcomers to receive culinary training and a gateway into jobs in the food world.
She teamed up with Chef Alexander Harris, who has worked at Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group, to create Emma's Torch.
After a stint as a pop-up at a restaurant in Red Hook, Emma's Torch recently opened their permanent location in Carroll Gardens, steps from where we begin our Brownstone Brooklyn tour.
Emma's Torch provides free (and in fact paid) training for refugees and survivors of human trafficking. They learn skills like knife techniques, the proper way to chop, and how to work in a restaurant kitchen. After an eight-work period, including 400 hours of culinary training and experience, they also receive help in finding jobs in the restaurant world in NYC. In fact, every single one of the graduates from 2017 have found culinary jobs at places like The Dutch and Dizengoff.
While the students are in training, you can visit their restaurant at brunch and dinner to taste their hard work and help support this program. And the food, which takes flavors from the students' origin countries, is amazing! We recommend the sweet and tangy tamarind chicken wings and the black eyed pea hummus.
This is a restaurant and program unlike anything else in the city. The food is expertly prepared at a reasonable price and when dining here, we know we are helping make a difference in people's lives. Especially with the political climate that exists today and much of the anti-immigrant sentiment in our country, this allows us to support the fabric of America as a home to people from all over the world, while supporting an important cause, and eating delicious food.
345 Smith Street,
Brooklyn, New York 11231