Recipe for Success

"Know Yourself, Know Your Rights, Know Your Responsibilities" Youth Training

In late August, Nourish, in partnership with the New Canadians Centre, piloted a kitchen-based employment training with eight newcomer youth. What were the ingredients that helped these youth to shine?

We started by asking what matters to them. The youth wanted to learn about their workplace rights. They also wanted to learn ways to become more employable - they wanted to learn about their responsibilities. So, we called the training “Know Yourself, Know Your Rights, Know Your Responsibilities.”

We gave them a say. Each day the training began with a team huddle and a chance to go over the recipes and create a game plan (called a prep list in the kitchen.)

We let them learn from their mistakes – while offering support. Some days, things didn’t quite turn out. Accidents happened, food was burnt, food had to be thrown out, people arrived late for the training. We went over the actual stakes of the mistake, and then related the stakes to what matters to them.

We let them make a difference. The pride when someone made delicious banana bread, balanced three plates at a time, or created a perfect cutlery roll-up kept the youth going throughout the training, all the way to their end celebration: cooking and serving a community dinner for 80 people.

We reminded them along the way. Being a teen is an exciting time!  We all remember it!  With so much change going on in their lives, minds and bodies, a few reminders to stay on track can help.

We gave them achievable goals. Kitchen work is great for achievable goals, whether it is to clean-out the pantry, clear out the dish-pit or complete a recipe within the hour, these are all achievable goals with noticeable results. We were able to then scale up the goals. We went back to giving them a say by getting their feedback and making a plan together. The youth were able to successfully complete mock job interviews and the community dinner.

We gave them incentives. Yes, incentives. The youth told us that what mattered to them was learning their rights and becoming more employable, so what could be better than a certificate of completion and a reference letter?

We made it fun. For the grand finale, a community dinner, the youth from the training came out, and they brought their friends. We had all hands on deck for the dinner, and when it comes to community-sized events, you can never have too many cooks in the kitchen!

To learn more about motivating your teenagers, visit: