As a part of our continuing celebration of the 100th class session at Inspiration Kitchens, we bring you another success story from this program.

There are few people who have taken a longer journey than Alfia. Born and raised in Ethiopia, Alfia grew up in a family where everyone learned to cook at an early age.  This was very much out of necessity, as her father owned a restaurant, and everyone in the family chipped in to keep it running.  Unfortunately, with tough economic conditions in her homeland, the family moved to Djibouti and opened another restaurant. That move proved unsuccessful, when Alfia’s father died soon after, and the family came to the United States to look for work.

Finding work and adjusting to a new life as East African refugees was not an easy task. When Alfia came to Inspiration Kitchens in 2004,  she was out of options and needed help. She had never received any formal restaurant training, even though she had years of experience in the family restaurants. Inspiration Kitchens was not only a resource to formalize her training and sharpen her skills, but the chef trainers and staff were tremendously patient with someone who spoke very little English.

“They were very patient with me”, she says. “They would speak slowly enough so I could understand them. These were people who were open to let you ask questions, as they actually wanted to work with you.”

Alfia found tremendous success at Inspiration Kitchens in session #12, and after graduation,  immediately found work at the Borders Cafe right up the street.  She was tremendously successful there, and even received a commendation from the president of Borders as one of the “hardest-working, friendliest employees of the entire organization.” Alfia was there for 5 years, until the store closed down.

She still loves to cook, although she doesn’t work as a professional chef anymore. As a single mom, she found other work at a child care center that was more flexible with her schedule. Still, she credits her training at Inspiration Kitchens as essential to finding work in her newly adopted country.

“I couldn’t have done it without everyone at Inspiration!”