Inspiration Kitchens: Dine Well, Do Good

Tonight we joined our friends Matthew & Anna for a fun dinner out at Inspiration Kitchens in Garfield Park. Matthew is the Executive Chef at Inspiration Kitchens in Uptown, so it was interesting to learn more about the organization while enjoying a delicious dinner.

Inspiration Kitchens is located just east of the corner of Lake St. and Central Park Ave, on the west side of Chicago, and driving up to the restaurant it really stands out from it’s surroundings. The building is beautifully designed and their garden is amazing!

Inside, the atmosphere is modern, colorful and welcoming.

Not only is Inspiration Kitchens a fun place to eat with a great ambiance, it is a unique organization with hopeful outcomes. Inspiration Kitchens is a 13 week job training program for homeless individuals, ex-offenders, and other low-income people who would otherwise have a tough time gaining employment. Almost all of the staff at the restaurant are participants in the program, and the meals are very reasonably priced to encourage a true community restaurant experience.

Here are some interesting facts taken from Inspiration Kitchens training outline:

  • The program started in 2000
  • Over 450 students have graduated from the program
  • 75% of graduates have become employed and 60% maintained their job for over 6 months
  • Students learn basic culinary techniques along with job readiness skills — great preparation for work within the restaurant industry
  • Students receive case management, free meals and CTA passes

In addition to hearing about the amazing things that go on at Inspiration Kitchens, we thoroughly enjoyed our dinner! I had their vegetarian special which was cauliflower, faro and roasted tomatoes all cooked with flavorful spices and a refreshing yogurt cucumber sauce. I love when the meal you eat fits perfectly with the overall experience that you have — and that was definitely true in this case. The creativity that went into this dish was obvious, and I loved the description from the server, the presentation and the actual flavors!

Craig enjoyed cornmeal crusted catfish. It was delicious and spicy!

Matthew and Anna led our Food, Faith & Sustainability class that led to this blog, and it was great to catch up with them. They are fun, thoughtful, smart friends, and we are so happy that our paths have crossed!

We split a peach cobbler (in a mini mason jar) for dessert. Yum.

After dinner, Matthew gave us a tour of the kitchen, staff offices, and training classroom. Seeing more than just the dining room was awesome, everyone that we met was extremely friendly, and it reinforced the feeling that this is a place we’ll be visiting again.

Thanks, Matthew & Anna, and Inspiration Kitchens, for a wonderful night out! Check out Inspiration Kitchens to learn more.

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