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Farestart and How Helping Them is Good for You!


This morning I was over at my friend EE’s house helping with a special event he’s doing for some of the Taste the Nation table captains.  He’s on the committee this year and one thing he has taken on as a personal goal is increasing the number of tables sold.  I volunteered to help him with the event he’s planning at his house and so we were working out the details this morning.  More on that in a future post but I was thinking about the organizations that Taste the Nation benefits and thought I’d share some of that information with you.


I actually try to support Farestart throughout the year, not just through Taste the Nation.  Farestart is a really great program that helps homeless people learn job skills in the culinary industry and then helps place them when they graduate.  What I really like about this program is that they also teach life skills such as how to maintain a bank account, pay bills, and dress for interviews, so that the graduates of their program are really given the tools they need to be successful in all areas. 

Farestart runs a restaurant in downtown Seattle called, strangely enough, Farestart Café.  They also have smaller cafés in buildings throughout the city, most notably they won the contract at the new Seattle Public Library. They also have a catering service.  They can come to you or their facility is available for events.   I’m not as familiar with those programs so I’m going to focus on what I do know. 

The main café, at 1902 Second Ave, is open for lunch Monday – Friday from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm.  They serve great lunches at reasonable prices.  When you dine at the café during lunch your meals are prepared and served by students.  (Students can choose either front of the house training – servers, hosts, floor managers – or back of the house – food preparation and meal creation.)  The students you meet will be somewhere in their 16 week training program.  Students all have different start and end dates so that there are always some senior people who are nearly ready to graduate to keep service levels high and so they can help teach the newer students.  If you work downtown this is a great place for lunch. 

On Thursday nights Farestart hosts Guest Chef Night.  This is the best deal in town! Each Thursday a different chef from a Seattle area restaurant donates their services and all the food stuffs for a 3-course meal.  The dinners cost just $16.95!  (Plus tax and tip.) Wine is also available by the glass or by the bottle (also donated by local wineries).   Servers are volunteers so everything you pay for the meal (including the tip) goes directly to Farestart programs.  This is really a great deal.  You can see the lineup of upcoming chefs here and as it gets closer to the date they will also post menus. If you look over last year’s calendar you’ll see that nearly every great chef in town takes a turn.  This is even a better way to sample a chef’s cuisine than the 25 for $25 event! And you can sign-up to be notified of guest chef’s and their menus.

And what I really like is that these same chefs often hire the graduates to work in their own kitchens.  I have to say that I think our culinary community in Seattle is pretty wonderful. 

I still encourage you to attend Taste the Nation – it just such a fun way to help the community.  But no matter what your decision about that, you should try to check out one of the Farestart Cafés – either for lunch or the Thursday night dinners.  Or consider using them to cater a work function or party. 

This program has been very successful – so successful that they are working to expand it this year.  But they will need a lot of help to do that.  The more they expand the more homeless people they can help bring in off the streets.  Buying a lunch or dinner every now and then – something you would do anyway – is a great way to help support this program.  Or check the list of events for other ways, like wine tasting, to support these programs.  Or volunteer your services

1902 Second Ave.
Seattle, WA 98101
Main: 206.443.1233


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