Rosemary Kowalski – who has kept the appetites of much of San Antonio satisfied for more than six decades through the premier catering company, The RK Group – and SA Youth will begin offering a new culinary arts training program for underprivileged young adults, ages 16 to 24, called Rosemary’s Kitchen.
The announcement was made during a special event July 18 at SA Youth’s Mission Verde Center, formerly Cooper Middle School, on the West Side in which 10 of the RK Group chefs and five of the city’s top chefs honored Kowalski by creating and serving their own school-cafeteria food but with a wonderfully delicious, gourmet twist.
Rosemary’s Kitchen is expected to begin January 2013. The culinary arts training program is part of YouthBuild, SA Youth’s dropout recovery program, in which young adults who previously quit school can earn their high school diploma or GED while receiving workforce training and certification in construction, computer technology – and now culinary arts.
“In my 66 years in the food business, I have always dreamed of helping someone have a place to teach culinary arts that would help our city,” Kowalski, founder of the RK Group, said to about 400 guests. “I never dreamed that someone would offer to name a kitchen after me. I’ve always talked about wanting to help young people change their lives by becoming chefs and helping them realize their talents. Now we’re able to do this thanks to SA Youth.”
Rosemary’s Kitchen got off to a great start when it was announced that H-E-B donated $25,000 to the culinary program.
“H-E-B is proud to be part of SA Youth’s effort in creating a strong youth education program in the culinary arts,” said Dya Campos, H-E-B director of public affairs. “Rosemary Kowalski is a pioneer in the food industry and her dedication to empowering youth is a value we share.”
The idea for Rosemary’s Kitchen came about a year ago when SA Youth was researching culinary arts as a workforce training program. At the time, Kowalski visited the Mission Verde Center for a tour, and SA Youth staff shared their vision for a culinary arts training program with her. After seeing the kitchen of the cafeteria, Kowalski expressed interest in helping since it was her dream to have a culinary arts training program on the West Side, although it will serve students from across the city.
Cynthia Le Monds, chief executive officer of SA Youth, said the nonprofit currently is seeking funding for Rosemary’s Kitchen. Research, she added, shows that culinary arts continue to be a booming industry. “There are many opportunities for us to partner with restaurants, hotels, hospitals and others to provide students with on-the-job training and to place students into employment and continue their education at the Culinary Institute of America,” she said.
After completion of the one-year program, students will receive a Job Readiness Certification from SA Youth verifying their culinary instruction and job readiness training hours.
For more information or to make a donation to Rosemary's Kitchen, call (210) 223-3131 or visit www.sanantonioyouth.org.