The ROOT Report: Everyone Gets a Second Chance In This Kitchen





Looking around the kitchen, you’ll meet people downsized from Fortune 500 companies, some working two minimum-wage jobs, and some struggling with homelessness. What do they have in common?

“We all have to eat” Chef Pearl, Director of The Culinary Promise School, likes to say of the ideology behind her life-changing culinary program. Regardless of background or experience, everyone is welcome at her table where she provides the same high-quality culinary training found at traditional professional schools.

“We try to be the heart of this community. And we use food to make that work happen and change those lives.” – Chef Pearl

Beyond pastry, soups, and sauces, Chef Pearl’s lessons also incorporate sustainability, agriculture and social justice. She encourages debate on how class, race, politics, and economics influence our diets. She is not only shaping the next generation of thoughtful farm-to-table chefs — she’s putting them to work. To date, the school has trained over 850 students and has a 90% employment rate in jobs ranging from high-end restaurants to running their own catering companies. One graduate even appeared on the hit television show, Chopped.

The Culinary Promise School is one of many programs offered by Elijah’s Promise.

Twenty-five years after it was founded as a soup kitchen by three New Brunswick churches, Elijah’s Promise serves 100,000 healthy meals a year and has grown to encompass a number of programs all dedicated to the ethos “food changes lives.”

Elijah’s Promise runs The Promise Garden, which uses its 50 garden beds to grow nutritious food for the neighborhood. In 2017, they launched Mercado Esperanza, a vibrant, community market celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit, cultural heritage, traditional foods and artistic soul of New Brunswick’s diverse population. The popular Mercado promotes economic development, community health, creative placemaking and social equity benefiting the largely Latino-American community in the neighborhood.

While the success of Elijah’s Promise is noteworthy, what makes them so unique is their commitment to health, sustainability, and dignity. Hunger can be isolating and dehumanizing, and Elijah’s Promise’s community-drive programs help restore dignity and connection to people in need, one life, one meal at a time.

For more on the great work Elijah’s Promise has been doing, visit


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