One of the city's poorest neighborhoods, Brownsville, Brooklyn — is getting a cooking school and restaurant. The developers hope the project helps tackle some of the community's health and income disparities. Borough reporter Jeanine Ramirez explains.
This corner in Brownsville that was home to a 99-cent store will soon open up as a fine dining restaurant and state-of-the art culinary school.
"Here what students will have is access to some of the finest culinary resources in New York City, if not the world," said Lucas Denton, Project Manager with The Melting Pot Foundation.
It's a big change from the fast food spots that fill the neighborhood. And that's the goal of the foundation, Denton said — to address health problems plaguing the community like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
The foundation was started by renowned restauranteur Claus Meyer from Denmark. Known internationally for his Copenhagen restaurant, he's also opening a food hall at Grand Central Terminal Here are his foundation's architectural drawings for the project — a 40-seat restaurant, a pastry shop and a culinary school with a paid apprenticeship program.
"We are very committed to engaging the community is every aspect of development possible so the cuisine is reflective of the community's taste and also that it's affordable. So we're offering a 50% discount to anyone with a SNAP card. So that everybody in the neighborhood has access to the food."
Some of the fresh produce will come from here — community gardens run by the Isabahlia Farmers Market.
"The initiative we're going to have is the students are going to grow what they're going to cook," said Brenda Duchene, executive director of Isabahlia Farmers Market." So that's really exciting."
The one-year culinary program is looking for students 18 to 24, primarily from Brownsville. Upon completion, there will also be job placement. Daniel Goodine who runs a neighborhood anti-violence program says jobs are needed for residents in this high unemployment area.
"Maybe we can bring the poverty level down with resources and activities," said Goodine, with Men Elevating Leadership.
Information on the culinary training center can be found online.