A social business in downtown Tel Aviv teaches high school dropouts everything from sautéing to dressing properly on the job.
Tel Aviv’s gourmet Liliyot restaurant and bakery café may look like any other upscale downtown eatery, but a peek in the kitchen reveals that behind the culinary excellence is a social mandate: To give 15 high school dropouts the skills and experience to go on to successful careers.
Under the guidance of chef Noam Dekkers and supervised by a social worker from ELEM, a national organization for Israeli youth, the teens employed at Liliyot learn how to prepare dishes such as chicken with miso-lemon-honey sauce and wild mushroom gnocchi with truffles.
At the same time, this social business trains them to complete assigned tasks and arrive on time, clean and properly attired. Many of them have never before learned strategies for becoming useful, contributing citizens.
Assaf Blank, a co-founder of the restaurant chain, says empowering these young people is an investment for all of society — not by giving money or food, which is gone at the end of the day, “but doing something that will make a real difference; to teach them how to deal with life when they finish here.”