With the support of UNICEF, Anera’s cooking course helps train the next generation of chefs.
This program is support by UNICEF, with funding from the German Development Bank, KfW
Lebanon and the Levant countries have long been known for their rich culture and heritage, including the art of cooking and delicious cuisine that has been passed down for generations. Most young people in Lebanon and neighboring countries have developed a strong taste in food. Many have learned recipes from their parents, a good foundation for aspiring young chefs.
With the support of UNICEF and with funding by the Government of Germany through KfW Development Bank, Anera has implemented a new vocational cooking course that aims to train youth in professional cooking skills, various cuisines, and teamwork within the kitchen. The course introduces students to tools and tricks of the trade that prepares them to work in professional kitchens.
Together with our local implementing partner, Genies, we offered the 50-day course in professional cooking in Beirut. Of the 20 students who participated, 15 then extended their practical learning through cash-for-work positions at the Sin El Fil Municipality Free Restaurant. Following graduation, three of the students — each of whom with disabilities — were hired by Genies as assistant chefs.
Farah is a 23-year-old refugee who fled Syria in 2018. Due to financial constraints, she was unable to continue her studies in Arabic literature. She turned to cooking as a career and now her goal is to become a famous chef and help maintain and continue the famous cuisine of her country. "I dream of opening my own restaurant one day and attracting food lovers from all over the world."
Farah encourages other women to follow her example and learn the skills to work hard and achieve their goals.
"I dream of opening my own restaurant one day and attracting food lovers from all over the world."
For Mayyasa, a 23-year-old from Syria, working in charity kitchens brought her joy and love because of the indescribable feeling she gets from using the skills she's learned to benefit her community. She enrolled in the cooking course to further develop her skills and get a feel for the job.
"The most crucial lesson I learned from the course and the training afterwards was the ability to function as part of an efficient team in the kitchen,” she says. “Teamwork saves time and effort!"
Lebanese student Rayane had a different motive for joining the course. The 24 year old hopes the cooking course will allow her to explore the art of cooking and how she can combine it with her area of expertise in psychology. She is finishing up her master's degree in psychology and believes that cooking can provide relief from stress, anxiety and even depression.
“That's why I encourage others to seek out different experiences to learn from and find their future careers," she says.
The courses not only teach young adults professional cooking skills, they also provide a sense of purpose and direction that can equip them with the means to navigate their professional lives and become financially independent.
By empowering young people with the tools they need to succeed in the culinary industry, Anera, with support from UNICEF, is also helping to preserve and promote the region’s culinary heritage.