About five years ago I read a random article online somewhere about a new social enterprise that had been set up by a couple of passionate young Melbourne hospitality professionals. It was called Scarf ("like a warm embrace") and its mission was to mentor and empower the kinds of young people who would usually face barriers to employment and training - migrants, refugees, kids having a rough time.
The premise was simple but it really spoke to me. When I first started working in the hospitality industry in Melbourne in my early twenties I picked up some really useful (and transferable) skills and knowledge, but looking back, the biggest gain for me was the confidence and sense of belonging that working in 'hospo' gave me.
Later, in my roles running mentoring and leadership programs for students at RMIT and The University of Melbourne I got a sense of the huge impact that mentoring can have on young people trying to find their way in life. Working as a hospitality trainer at William Angliss Institute for several years also meant that I got to understand just how fun, infectious and accessible hospitality training can be, and how many doors it can open up for young people wanting to get their start in the workforce. When I think about the ways in which the combination of work skills, confidence and a sense of belonging might impact the life of an otherwise 'lost' young person it gives me tingles.
When the folks from Scarf approached me a few months ago about coming on board as an Ambassador for the program I was thrilled. I'd been bugging them for ways to help out ever since they first started and had brought legions of friends and strangers to their dinners over the years so it was not only an honour but a total no-brainer too.
Together with Jan Owen AM (CEO, Foundation for Young Australians), Nathan Toleman (Top Paddock + The Kettle Black) and Matt Preston (journalist + MasterChef Australia judge) you'll be hearing from me about the wonderful work that Scarf does, as well as finding out about ways that you too can get involved in the work of transforming the lives of young people. Sounds pretty good, eh?
Scarf's winter dinner season at The Lincoln in Carlton starts on Tuesday 9 June. Grab a few friends, book a table, eat well and see what it is that we do.
Scarf - do more than dine.