Monday, March 12, 2012

A Taste of New Orleans: Café Hope

Last week, I participated in an Alternate Spring Break trip to New Orleans, Louisiana. While obviously I was eager for many aspects of the trip, I was extremely excited to try the distinctive and colorful New Orleans cuisine. From the beignets and chicory coffee at Café du Monde to spicy shrimp rémoulade and po-boys, the food was indeed amazing. However, my lasting food memory of the trip is of Café Hope.

Café Hope is not the typical tourist stop in the same way that Café du Monde is, but as a program invested in helping those in need, it was a prime destination for my group’s lunch break. Café Hope is a lunch restaurant and catering business under the auspices of Catholic Charities that provides twelve-week training and certification in the food and hospitality industries for disadvantaged young adults between the ages of seventeen and twenty-one. The students all come from low-income families and are not currently enrolled in school. The Café also works with the Jefferson Parish of New Orleans Juvenile Services to take in adolescents with juvenile justice system exposure. In addition to teaching the students and paying them for their contribution to the restaurant, the program helps them find work upon completion of training and pairs them with mentors. The restaurant offers lunch Monday-Friday from 11:00-2:00, and at about $10-$13 per entrée, is an amazing deal for the traditional Cajun/Creole food served.

I ordered a light garden salad, herbed chicken with pan-roasted vegetables, and delicious New Orleans bread pudding. All in all, I would say it was one of the best meals I had on my trip. Café Hope is a truly innovative program that addresses the needs of at-risk young adults while simultaneously passing on New Orleans cuisine and healthy food habits. It is an inspiration in many ways, and has made a lasting impression with me about similar possibilities in Philadelphia and elsewhere.

*picture and logo from Café Hope's website:

1 comment:

  1. It sounds like you had a totally unique spring break experience. In your quest to have a distinctive New Orleans experience, you had a brief brush with serendipity. While trying out the decidedly extraordinary cuisine of New Orleans, you discovered this café that is not just a good place to eat but is also invested in helping disadvantaged young adults. That’s hitting two birds with one stone. Thank you for sharing this fortunate experience you had.



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