AP Photo/Emeril Lagasse Foundation, Cherly Gerber
Chef Emeril Lagasse Unveils Plans for the Second Floor Expansion at Café Reconcile
NEW ORLEANS, LA (November 2, 2007) – The Emeril Lagasse Foundation announced today plans for the construction of an innovative culinary learning center at Café Reconcile in New Orleans. Located in Central City, Café Reconcile is an eatery where at-risk youth gain social skills and hospitality experience by working in the business. The 2,700 square foot Emeril Lagasse Culinary Learning Center nearly doubles the amount of usable space and continues restoration of the 5-story historic structure.
Today, Emeril Lagasse surprised Café Reconcile with an additional $250,000 grant for this project, bringing the total contribution from the Foundation to $500,000. The Center will enhance the Reconcile’s restaurant operations and social entrepreneurship programs, as well as create a permanent home for their advanced culinary training curriculum. The space will feature a large open floor plan that seats 150, demonstration kitchen, prep kitchen, moveable cabinetry and work stations that adapt for private parties, catering events and community programs.
“In New Orleans, community and cuisine go hand in hand,” says Emeril Lagasse. “Our friends at Café Reconcile have worked tirelessly to revitalize this neighborhood and rebuild lives by teaching life skills and the art of cooking. The Center will help advance Reconcile’s mission by providing a space for students to gain more in-depth culinary knowledge, and help foster positive community spirit.”
Housed in a turn of the century, 12,000 square foot building, Reconcile New Orleans oversees three main outreach programs in the city. Programs include Café Reconcile, the St. Regis Hospitality Program, and Reconcile Construction Program, which teaches students construction skills as they build new homes for disadvantaged hospitality industry workers.
“After nearly three years of planning and selling our vision, the Emeril Lagasse Foundation’s support for this project brings new hope and energy to our Central City neighborhood. With Emeril’s commitment, we can attract additional support for our community’s renaissance and inspire the next generation of culinary professionals,” says Craig Cuccia, Café Reconcile Executive Director.
The Café continues as a sign of hope in a neighborhood otherwise noted for blight and economic depression and is an incubator for development in the surrounding Central City neighborhood. More than 400 individuals have overcome socio-economic hardships and graduated from the program, primed for successful entry into the city’s second largest economic sector – the restaurant and hospitality industry.