Emma's Torch Restaurant In NYC

Emma's Torch provides employees with culinary training and language classes for jobs in the restaurant industry

Refugees who find themselves in a new country face a number of challenges, whether it's navigating language barriers, finding a new community to call home or just landing a job. But that's exactly where Emma's Torch, a restaurant that opened this week in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, comes in. 

The nonprofit social enterprise (named after Emma Lazarus, the poet whose words are inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty) doubles as a place where refugees can enroll in a paid, two-month development program. During their time at Emma's Torch, they'll receive culinary training, take ESL classes and undergo interview preparation, so they can eventually find full-time jobs in the restaurant industry. 

Founder Kerry Brodie came up with the idea after volunteering at a homeless shelter. "I became intrigued by the idea of using food to do more than feed people," she tells Eater. "Maybe we could use food to nourish and empower them." She's joined by culinary director Alexander Harris, whose career includes experience at Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group and who's behind the globally inspired menu that's described as "new American cuisine—prepared by our new American students." Stop by for dinner or weekend brunch for plates of eggplant caviar with crumbled feta, a shawarma-spiced lamb shank with a mint-flecked lima bean ragout and pistachio bread pudding.  

According to the Emma's Torch website, 100 percent of its graduates have found full-time jobs after completing the program, giving them opportunities to move out of homeless shelters and start making plans to bring other family members to the U.S., too.

Formerly a pop-up, Emma's Torch relocated this week to a permanent space in Carroll Gardens. 

The nonprofit social enterprise doubles as a place where refugees can take ESL classes and learn culinary skills. 

Culinary director Alexander Harris (left) is behind the globally-inspired menu. 

Grilled summer squash with eggplant caviar, roast peppers and crumbled feta. 

Shawarama-spiced lamb shank with lima bean ragout, amba (a pickled mango condiment) and mint. 

Beef brisket braised in ale with creamy barley and roast carrots. 

Marinated black-eyed pea hummus with dried chiles. 

100 percent of graduates are able to find full-time culinary jobs upon completion of the program.