Like a Chef: Our sustainable culinary training that spurs life-long impact

Since 2017, our Like a Chef culinary training program has helped hundreds to find work in Brazil, Poland, Ukraine, Egypt, Russia and Sweden.

The five- to ten-week Like a Chef program has been changing lives by providing sustainable culinary training to help people into work. Developed by the Electrolux Food Foundation in partnership with Worldchefs and AIESEC, the training has already given around 400 people an international certification from Worldchefs that they can use to find work in a professional kitchen. Many participants are from vulnerable or disadvantaged backgrounds with limited formal education.

The long-term goal is to provide professional culinary training for 3,000 people by 2030. In 2021, many Like a Chef projects around the world were disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, but all have plans to restart and scale up in 2022.

Here’s a country-by-country overview of what’s happening and what’s in the pipeline:

Brazil – the program is active in the cities of Curitiba, São Carlos and São Paulo. During the pandemic, the program continued through a new blended learning format that includes digital and face-to-face learning and was developed in collaboration with local partners, with a focus on entrepreneurship. As of December 2021, around 69% of Like a Chef participants in Brazil had found work after taking the training.

Russia – Like a Chef in Moscow targets young adults about to leave foster care. The program was launched in 2018 but was suspended in 2020 due to the pandemic. It is set to restart in the summer 2022 in collaboration with local restaurants and the Russian Chef Association.

A graduate of the program Vanya explains: “I entered this project to learn something new. To find out more about the secrets of cooking. Our mentor not only shares with us his skills, but also encourages us and helps us decide who we want to be in the future. In the kitchen I feel relaxed. I am a chef.”

Sweden – the program works through Yalla Rinkeby, a worker-owned social enterprise to help immigrant women in Stockholm better integrate into society. The first students were trained in 2019.

One of the course students Mariam Selim says: “You learn a lot here, you get to meet people. You are happy here so you get to become braver. I dream about opening a small café. Everyone here has a dream.”

Ukraine – the program was launched at the end of 2019 and trained young people living in orphanages in Kiev before being suspended due to the pandemic. It is expected to be restarted in 2022 to focus on unemployed women and school children.

Poland – in collaboration with the country’s National Federation of Food Banks, the program was held in the city of Olzstyn. A new version of the program is being discussed for 2022.

Egypt – unemployed women from Cairo were trained in a kitchen at the Electrolux cooker factory. The program was suspended when the pandemic began, and the plan is to restart it in 2022.

Hong Kong – 330 employees in Hong Kong walked five million steps together over ten days to raise money for the Like a Chef program with USD 15,000 raised in total.

France – the program is expected to launch in 2022 at Electrolux premises with a focus on the unemployed and refugees living in the community around the Electrolux office.

Watch this space for more to come…