People representing A Better World Café led several workshops at the nation’s first summit for community kitchens, held in New Orleans Jan. 16 -17. WIMNI Board President Tina Weishaus found it uplifting “being among like-minded people from all over the country, interested in creating places where rich and poor come together to eat”.
Many attendees were exploring how to open a pay-what-you-can-afford cafe in their own cities. Non-profit eateries from Salt Lake City, Denver, Seattle, and Highland Park, NJ offered assistance and shared their experiences. Better World’s head chef, Rachel Weston, presented popular sessions on cooking seasonally, while Better World’s financial director, Matthew Borgen, presented an index of reality tests for dream-stage teams to understand the operational steps and time commitment that will precede success.
“Matt helped people understand that being good cooks is only a small part of opening a restaurant. After hearing his talk, teams from some cities decided they need to go to culinary school before setting up their nonprofit café,” Weishaus stated. The conference was organized by the Denise Cerreta, who founded the nation’s oldest community kitchen, One World Everybody Eats, in 2003.
Although Denver, CO has its SAME (So All May Eat) Café, five other teams from the Denver area were at the conference exploring ways to get community kitchens going in their own parts of the metro area. Washington DC, Baltimore, and several North Carolina cities had multiple teams investigating. Several from rural areas in Pennsylvania and Indiana were also there considering how to do it in their localities.
Weishaus stated: “We now understand how unique we are. No other café project in the country came together as two nonprofits creating a partnership. The wealth of experience flowing to our café from (Elijah’s Promise) Culinary School, Promise Catering, and the strengths of both nonprofits (WIMNI and EP) is not duplicated anywhere else.”
A Better World Café will join with other community kitchens around the nation to celebrate World Food Day Oct. 16, 2010 in a project that will highlight the progress of the community café movement, of which A Better World Café is now a guiding force.