Triumph Kitchen: Youths gain special training at newest downtown restaurant

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Downtown Baton Rouge has seen a number of transformations over the past decade. Today, a new business opened its doors, and it's truly one of a kind.

Early Friday morning, the first cups of coffee were passed around the Triumph Kitchen. But the baristas are actually students, and the colorful space is a very unique classroom.

After 20 years working as a chef, Chris Wadsworth and his wife, Sommer, decided to serve up something a bit different. Every 14 weeks a different group of teens and young adults will enter Triumph Kitchen, and they'll hopefully leave with a new lease on life.

"What she's going to show you is how much of it needs to come out and the consistency of it," Wadsworth said while instructing students for the grand opening of the Triumph Kitchen.

Darian Norris and Sage Lilly are among the inaugural class.

"Me and Sage are having a really hard time finding jobs, and you know if you don't have the experience you need you're not going to be able to get the jobs that you want," Norris said.

The program costs about $1,500 per student, but they don't pay one penny. Besides, being a feast for the eyes, the walls of Triumph Kitchen help pay the bills. Local companies sponsor the spaces.

"What we did is gathered up 5 or 6 local artists and had them really take into consideration what these companies mean to the community, what they mean to this industry and re-interpret that on the walls so that all of our guests and students actually get to see the support right there in their face," Wadsworth explained.

It's all part of the full-circle philosophy of this place. Some students they train will end up at many of those businesses, giving them a valuable return on their investment.

"They're pre-trained, pre-certified, and they leave here serve-safe certified, so now you really have employees you can trust, rely on," Wadsworth said.

"Doing this inside of a restaurant would be a lot harder than doing it inside of a school because you have a lot more room to grow and a lot more room to find out your strengths and weaknesses without actually worrying about getting fired here," Norris said with a laugh.

Now they just need customers, to put them to the test.

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