|Chris White, a Culinary Training Collaborative graduate, |
with Felicia Jenkins, Chef Instructor at Zest 280
Eat lunch at Zest 280 and you'll enjoy a good, healthy lunch along with a generous serving of second chances. I did. On my first visit I savored this mission-based café's homemade Grain Bowl. It was a delicious combination of lentils, quinoa, brown rice, peppers, tomato, kale and grilled chicken. This cozy café at 280 Park Road in West Hartford, sister restaurant to the acclaimed Pond House Café, is celebrating its first anniversary since owners Kim Yarum and Louis Lista reopened it a year ago with a mission dedicated to providing former prison inmates a second chance to earn the skills necessary to re-enter society with a viable career in the workplace.
On the day of my first visit, Chris White was my host and server. His welcoming style, attention to detail, and willingness to explain Zest 280's mission appropriately complemented Zest’s bright and open atmosphere. He holds a permanent position on the Pond House Café's banquet staff, where he was placed after completing his Zest externship. However, this day Chris was handling Zest's hosting duties gladly to fill a last minute staffing need.
|The healthy, homemade Grain Bowl I ate on my first visit.|
|On my second visit my friend had the Roasted Beet Salad and ...|
|... I ordered the Salmon Cake Served Over Indian Rice.|
Working as a Culinary Training Collaborative, CPA, The Kitchen and Zest 280 combine to provide professional training in food preparation and customer service with actual on-the-job business experience to prepare people "seeking a second chance for careers in the culinary arts and hospitality industries." The Collaborative is integral to CPA's mission which focuses on behavioral change and advocacy for criminal justice reform. CPA's "employment, basic needs, reentry and recovery services work together to reduce recidivism, enhance public safety and inform public policy -- all at a fraction of the cost of prison."
|On my third visit Victoria Negrón was our host and server. |
My friend enjoyed the Zesty Starter and I savored
the perfectly spiced Thai Chicken Salad.
The Culinary Training Collaborative is an excellent example of a partnership determined to clear a pathway back into society for individuals seeking a second chance. The opportunity to work at Zest 280 provides a vital step along the road to gainful employment. It's a step toward restoring hope and dignity to a vulnerable population searching for an opportunity for redemption. Zest 280 is The Eatery with a Twist where you'll enjoy a delicious healthy lunch with a generous serving of second chances.
|Zest 280 is located at 280 Park Road in West Hartford|
(Photo from the Community Partners in Action web site)
Don Shaw, Jr.
Writer and Editor
Photos by Don Shaw, Jr., and one from Community Partners in Action as noted.