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Last week I introduced you to Richard Grausman's French Classics Made Easy, and I assured you that Grausman was capable of simplifying recipes without sacrificing flavor. What I didn't tell you is that Grausman is the founder of an incredible program, C-CAP, whose mission is "to promote and provide career opportunities in the foodservice industry for underserved youth through culinary arts education and employment" (from the mission statement).
The Careers through Culinary Arts Program is available in a handful of cities in the United States and provides much, much more than just cooking classes.
The Philadelphia program was the subject of the moving and inspirational documentary Pressure Cooker, which I first heard about on Beth Kephart's blog. High school teacher Mrs. Stephenson of Frankford High School in inner-city Philly is a force to be reckoned with. She tells it like it is, and students better be ready to hear the unvarnished truth. Stephenson's toughness, however, is mixed with incredible compassion and generosity.
Thanks to Grausman, teachers like Stephenson, and the support of donors, hardworking teens throughout the country have an opportunity to see a bright future. For many of these kids, C-CAP is the only way they'll get an education, helping not only themselves but their families see a better life.
One of the amazing things about the Philadelphia program is the diversity of students, including a recent immigrant from Africa, a cheerleader, and a football player. Some have family support, some don't, but all make sacrifices to stay in the program and practice to pass the rigorous competition for the chance to win a college scholarship.
Be inspired and have some tissues nearby. And don't miss Grausman's French Cooking Made Easy, which--in earlier renditions--"has served as an inspirational text for" C-CAP teachers and students. If inner-city teens can create awesome meals from this book, so can you.