With a substantial donation from Amazon, FareStart opened its second restaurant in the company’s South Lake Union home in July. And while it embraces the philosophy of FareStart, one which emphasizes the kitchen as classroom and a supportive environment, it’s also the training ground for FareStart’s new Foodservice Apprenticeship Program, which gives people who’ve been working in the industry the opportunity to advance their skills in order to move to higher wage jobs. FareStart’s partnerships with local restaurants and foodservice employers have been a tremendous benefit to creating the curriculum for this program.
Apprentices, who often have experienced barriers to employment or are FareStart grads, work side-by-side with Maslow’s staff. Wayne Johnson, who is the Corporate Executive Chef for all of FareStart’s food businesses, explains “With our Adult Culinary Program, we’re helping the students get food, shelter, sobriety, friendship and family. At Maslow’s, the apprentices have stable housing and have worked in the industry, but are still in poverty and face barriers to employment. It’s for those who want to advance themselves. You could be a former FareStart graduate or just a person in the culinary business, who needs to improve or develop new skills.”
Though the program isn’t easy, Johnson emphasizes the learning aspect. “Let’s say a busser wants to become a server. We bring them in, but keep them familiar with what they know. Gradually, we’ll move them into other areas, doing whatever it takes for them to feel comfortable in a front-of-house capacity. They might work the expediter line, shadow a server, then move into waiting on their own small section. Throughout it, they’ll be coached by other staffers—managers and supervisors on the floor who help them learn how to talk to a customer.” That same scenario plays out in back-of-house positions, such as when a prep person wants to work their way through pantry to sauté to sous chef.
With a state-of-the-art kitchen and a beautiful, soaring space, Maslow’s is open for lunch, dinner and happy hour Monday through Saturday. Maslow’s Executive Chef Sarah Lorenzen says the menu highlights local and seasonal proteins and vegetables, but adds surprises. There’s salmon, but here it comes with a roasted mushroom relish with beech and king oyster mushrooms, black garlic and pickled onions. The crispy, salty skin of the salmon complemented by the earthy umami of the mushrooms makes it a menu favorite. Also popular is the pork belly cured with brown sugar with a light apple smoke, which contrasts nicely with a fall-influenced dried fruit preserve.
These dishes are executed by a staff of chefs who weren’t just hired because they knew how to cook well. They also had to fit into the FareStart culture and be willing to teach others. The comprehensive apprenticeship program teaches behavioral and professional skills and provides assistance with resume building and job placement. Chef Johnson boils it down: “Our work is based on three beliefs. That food is central to our emotional, physical and economic well-being. That people have the incredible capacity to transform their lives when they have the right tools and support. And that solutions that provide real value to a community have the best hope of lasting.”
Given the great start Maslow’s is off to—and with Chefs Wayne and Sarah and the FareStart ethos behind it—lasting hardly seems like an issue.