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Top Rated LA Restaurant Expands Culinary Program in Support of Refugees & Immigrants

Flavors from Afar is a one-of-a-kind restaurant and social enterprise of the Tiyya Foundation dedicated to empowering refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants who are passionate about the culinary arts. Our unique platform provides participants an opportunity to showcase their cuisines, while fostering their culinary skills and gaining valuable work experience such as a percent of gross sales. This fall, we're expanding our culinary program, introducing new educational workshops and opportunities to host events for the public.

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What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Immigrant and Refugee Support

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

County of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

Upon arriving in LA, participants often find themselves starting from zero, feeling overwhelmed, traumatized, and vulnerable to isolation. At Flavors, we recognize that upward economic mobility is a top priority for most families. For those with a passion for the culinary arts, our program offers a safe haven where they can cultivate existing skills, broaden their knowledge, forge meaningful connections, and preserve the sacred cultures and recipes passed down through generations. By empowering individuals to explore their culinary talents, we empower them to reclaim their identities and find a sense of belonging within their new communities. Removing barriers and providing a nurturing environment, we believe that Flavors plays a vital role in shaping the future of aspiring culinary entrepreneurs. With our program, participants gain the confidence, skills, and knowledge needed to not only succeed but also to make a lasting impact in LA and the industry as a whole.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

Flavors was born from the desire to use food to share and celebrate the culinary traditions, cultures, and stories of refugee and asylum seekers with LA. In the highly competitive LA restaurant scene, our program has had remarkable success - national media attention, a prestigious Michelin Bib Gourmand, and a Los Angeles Times Top 101 Restaurant for two years in a row. It's time to take an important step forward towards our growth. This fall, Flavors will relocate to Hollywood, enabling us to amplify our impact and enhance our services for the benefit of our community and dedicated participants. Our new location will offer several advantages, including a home to Tiyya Foundation's LA office. Our culinary program will expand its offerings providing onsite workshops for participants, opportunities for collaboration from community partners, and experiences for the public. We're confident that this move will help us grow our following, and most importantly, thrive as a social enterprise. Flavors success directly benefits programming offered to participants via Tiyya Foundation, as it receives 40 percent of restaurant sales. We recognize the value in having the foundation located onsite, providing patrons with a tangible connection to the cause they're supporting and a clear vision of the transformative work we undertake. In addition, Flavors is applying to become a certified benefit corporation (B-corp) reinforcing our commitment to making a lasting impact in our community.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Flavors embodies the vibrant multicultural food culture LA is famous for. It showcases the diversity of global cuisines by featuring monthly rotating menus from refugee chefs, offering the community authentic dishes reminiscent of those prepared in homes around the world. In addition, the restaurant provides each home-taught chef dealing with displacement and trauma, a trusted space to develop and share their talents with their new community. The expanded educational programming is a key element in our mission to empower aspiring chefs and home cooks. Our workshops will provide valuable skills, knowledge, and insights into various culinary techniques, trends, and business practices - equipping individuals with the tools they need to succeed in the industry. Our new space will also provide opportunities for community participation, positioning us as a hub that fosters engagement and raises awareness about our presence and workforce programming.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Our ultimate goal is to empower and transform the lives of refugees and asylum seekers by providing comprehensive training and education in the culinary arts. We gauge the success of our program through a multifaceted approach. First is the experiences of both the chefs and our guests. Chefs gain restaurant experience, exposure, confidence, and assets (photography, media exposure) that can be used to build a portfolio for future business and personal opportunities. We're also committed to maintaining our 5-star Yelp rating, a reflection of our guest experiences. Second, we'll evaluate the impact of our new programming based on the value it provides participants in their culinary journey. We'll assess how the skills gained aid participants in achieving their goals, such as opening a business or securing employment in the hospitality industry. Our Culinary Program Coordinator will work closely with each participant, providing tailored support and guidance throughout their journey.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 20

Indirect Impact: 1,400