Everyday consumers can elevate Kansas City through the simple of act of eating a meal, said Chef Shanita McAfee-Bryant.
Her in-the-works non-profit urban eatery concept — The Prospect — caters to a marketplace hungry for culinary-oriented workforce development training: students looking for a window into entrepreneurship through cooking, said Bryant, 2014 winner of Food Network’s TV cooking competition “Cutthroat Kitchen” and owner of local catering company Magnolias on the Move.
“We have lots of workforce development programs that give people an opportunity to get training, but they won’t deal with the whole person,” Bryant told a crowd gathered Wednesday for 1 Million Cups Kansas City at Plexpod’s Medallion Theater. “We don’t address the issues that can keep them from keeping the job, so they wind up going from place to place to place.”
Click here to learn more about The Prospect.
The Prospect is named after its students, she said, preferring to call the population in need of training “prospects” rather than characterize them as “poor” or “underserved.”
“I don’t like those terms because that’s not always the case,” she added. “They’re just people who need a little extra support, and if we’re all honest, [we’ve all] been in a moment where [we] could use a little extra support.”
The 16-week program — in a space yet to be determined — is expected to address all the needs of a student, Bryant said, noting additional wraparound services aided by other non-profits.
“The restaurant is going to have training and then all the additional support we’re going to bring in is going to make it easier for them to be successful,” she said.
Catalyst Kitchens, a Seattle-based social enterprise network with a similar concept, is expected to work closely with The Prospect to supply the curriculum and models for instructor trainings, she added, noting that other workforce development training programs in the metro can be pipelines in or to continuing education for students.
“They are not competition,” Byrant said. “I’ve talked to several of them and they can be partners. [Students] can start there and then come to me, then we can support them until they’re able to move on. Any program that you can think of in the city — whether it be the culinary program at the Kansas City, Missouri, school district or the Job Corps — we can all work together.”
The idea requires $200,000 to get off the ground, she said, noting that if fundraising goes well, the non-profit is expected to find a Kansas City home in early 2020.
“We’re in negotiations with a couple of places now,” she added. “Some of them are ready to go, and some of them are more work … [The time frame on getting students] really is based on location [as well].”
The next steps will also include gathering a board and an addition of seven to nine instructors, said Bryant, noting her network of peers in the culinary industry can be tapped for supplemental learning.
“We are for the [people] of the world who are trying to make a difference and trying to do better for themselves, but are not getting the opportunity,” she said.
Watch The Prospect presentation at 1 Million Cups Kansas City below.