Somerville resident and former student of the nonprofit now thriving and pursuing dream of becoming a chef
In its 20th year, the annual “Chefs in Shorts” charity event will once again use its proceeds to benefit Future Chefs, a local non-profit organization that seeks to guide high school students on their paths to becoming chefs.
Future Chefs was founded in 2008 and seeks to provide guidance, internships and access to low-income students, allowing them to fully explore their interests and better prepare themselves for their lives in the culinary world.
“Future Chefs provides authentic work experience in order to instill a mindset of success, thus strengthening our local economy and building civic responsibility,” said Toni Elka, Founder and Executive Direcor of Future Chefs. “We believe every young person is an asset to their community.”
Somerville resident Aly Lopez, 25, is a former Future Chefs student, and now works as sous chef at Forklift Catering in Somerville.
“There were two key moments during my high school years that helped me overcome some difficulties,” Lopez said. “The first one was when I got introduced to Toni Elka. She looked at me in the eyes and said ‘I believe in you.’ The second one was when she took my hand and brought me to my first ever professional interview at a French Kitchen in Cambridge. We had a chat, she hugged me and told me I was going to be okay.”
This program gave Lopez the essential skills to become a professional and independent young adult.
“It is a place where you can be yourself and get the support you need if you are interested in the food industry or any other career you decide to take,” Lopez said.
Offering students the opportunities to volunteer, cook and learn more about the culinary field, Future Chefs hopes to not only help its students grow and find a career, but also teach them how they can make positive differences in their communities and how they can believe in themselves and their dreams.
Some of the major benefits for Future Chefs are the network and work opportunities in restaurants from around the city. Lopez was part of the first ‘Chefs in Shorts’ for Future Chefs in 2012 where she helped in the pastry department at the Seaport Hotel for a couple of hours. After scooping a huge batch of cookie dough, the pastry chef showed her around, explained the way their restaurants work and even offered her a job.
“I owe some of my favorite memories to ‘Chefs in Shorts,’” said Lopez. “It was encouraging to know someone with such a huge operation going on made the time to walk around with me — she made me feel special.”
In support of positive experiences and memories like those Lopez has made, “Chefs in Shorts” hopes to raise money to support the future endeavors of Future Chefs. “Chefs in Shorts” is a charity event that invites chefs from all around the Greater Boston Area to don a pair of shorts, fire up the grill and prepare their best dishes to compete for the title of fan favorite, while also benefiting the teens at Future Chefs.
Hosted by the Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center, proceeds from “Chefs in Shorts” go to helping Future Chefs fund its programs and make them more engaging and effective than ever before. For more information or to support Future Chefs at “Chefs in Shorts” on June 23rd, purchase tickets online at: https://chefsinshorts2017.eventbrite.com.