Chef, Restaurateur, TV presenter, Author, Consultant, Surfer, Fisherman and Family Man.



 

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Dilmah’s Empowering a Culinary Future in Sri Lanka

In 2008 while filming the chefs and the tea maker I came across the first culinary school set up as a charity it brought all the chefs who were with me to tears.
The idea never left me and when MJF charity built a facility in Moratuwa,  Colombo for the care of disabled kids and then started to build a culinary school I was over the moon.
I have assisted and been a part of it since the inception and this year to see our first batch of disadvantaged kids graduate was a moment of immense pride for Dilhan Fernando, his Father and brother, the two amazing teachers who taught them their parents and me.
I have known the kids from the time they were first selected. all come from very poor backgrounds, most tea pickers and never in the world would they have had this opportunity.
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I assisted with the class programs and I assisted them all find jobs in great hotels in Sri Lanka.
This program gives hope to people who could never afford to attend a hospitality collage, let alone finding jobs after.
The kids were all 18 and so keen, hanging on every word, and with the generosity and kindness of many people these young cooks have a new future.
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The next batch starts next month and I will be ensuring that they too are placed into caring businesses.
There are so many people behind the scenes that contribute to their success, and I am very proud to do my small part to ensure these kids have a bright future.
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They start by moving into the facility and they are fed and clothed, each morning starts with an exercise session, the first 2 weeks are spent in the garden on the property, it is organic and has over 100 varieties of food crops, they learn permaculture and where the food comes from.
Then they move into the beautiful kitchens with a pastry section and individual hobs to learn the basics of cooking there is even a hob for a student in a wheelchair, this is combined with a theory class and english lessons. The course is an intensive 4 months and at then end they have the basics to be employed,
People have heard about these kids and are contacting me to take kids from the next batch, a very proud moment for me, a lot of time and hard work has gone into this project and we end up with a beautiful human result.
Its not hard, it just takes time.
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