Imagine that you are an at-risk young woman, or have been involved in gangs and are given the opportunity to become a contributing member of society instead of being incarcerated? This is exactly what Homegirl Cafe & Catering accomplish.
In 1981 Chef Patricia Zarate left her homeland on Guadalajara, Mexico and moved to Southern California. She fell in love with all things food and became a chef. During this time she became very close with a Jesuit pastor by the name of Greg Boyles. Pastor Boyles and Chef Pati worked together with gangs in the Boyle Heights area of Southern California. In addition, Chef Pati prepared home cooked meals around the local community and opened her first restaurant. Here she employed at-risk young women.
The success of Homegirl Café is due largely to Pati’s hardworking, socially responsible and nurturing spirit, but most importantly, it is the humble earnestness she applies to her work that allows her to share and learn from the beautiful women she is blessed to work with daily.
Chef Pati mentored and trained dozens of young women in the art of food service and the restaurant industry. In 2007 Homegirl Cafe and Catering (a division of Homeboy Industries) was established and at any one time, over 30-40 homegirls undergo job training there.
Homegirl Cafe offers a one year training program within the food and service industry and helps these once at-risk young women to feel empowered and provide valuable vocation training to help shape their futures. Included in the training are areas of the kitchen, front of house hospitality, barista, gardening and maintenance. In addition, participants must intern at a local restaurant.
The menu is wonderfully modern with a slight Latina flare featuring local, seasonal vegetables and fresh baked goods. Wholesome and healthy meals are prepared to eat on site or for the catering menu as well and may include Quinoa Pancakes for breakfast to a Kale Caesar Salad for lunch. A Saturday brunch menu is also included.
And to add to all of this wonderful support, job training and self-empowerment, Homegirl has a mini-garden that they eventually hope to grow much of their produce from. Homegirl Cafe composts 100% of it’s vegetable wastes, uses only vegetable based plastics, unbleached paper products and has a strict recycling program. The aim is to be a leader in sustainable restaurant practices and the evolving urban food movement. For sale through the Homegirl Marketplace are fresh preserved jams, seasonal vegetables and fruits and plant starters.
Homegirl Cafe is located on 130 W. Bruno St in Los Angeles Ca. If you are in the area, please stop by and enjoy the wonderful, healthy food they make there and support this amazing and innovative project to help at-risk youth move forward into a fulfilling life helping to contribute to society.