EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute held its seventh annual La Bastille Fundraiser on Saturday, July 16. More than 400 guests gathered at the EDWINS Second Chance Life Skills Center on South Moreland Road in Cleveland for Francophile-inspired culinary delights.
Opened in 2013, EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute is a nonprofit organization that offers formerly incarcerated adults a foundation in the culinary and hospitality industries, and a support network necessary for long-term success with re-entry. While enrolled in the program, EDWINS students are equipped with intensive training and hands-on work experience. They are provided with free housing, legal services, basic medical care, clothing, job coaching, literacy programs and more at the Second Chance Life Skills Center (est. 2016),
a 30,000-square-foot campus.
The event raised nearly $285,000 which will support EDWINS mission and help fund the new EDWINS Family Center, a 2,000-square-foot childcare/daycare center for students enrolled in the six-month culinary course. The renovated two-story building, set to open this fall, is located in the Larchmere Boulevard neighborhood of Shaker Heights. Children will play just a block away from where their parents are earning a second chance at entering the workforce. Finding childcare is a barrier for 80 percent of students who don’t make it through the program if they have children.
The Institute boasts a one percent recidivism rate, as compared to Ohio’s 33 percent rate and
47 percent nationally. The job placement rate is 95 percent for the 100 graduates per year and more than 130 Cleveland-area businesses employ graduates.
La Bastille guests celebrated in true Parisian style with extravagant cuisine complete with a raw oyster bar, bourbon and cigar bar, a stunning buffet of culinary creations, spectacular fireworks and a parade of entertainment, as well as an array of magnifique silent auction and raffle items. Performers from Wizbang entertained the crowd with juggling, stilt walking and aerial acts that added a sense of “je ne sais quoi” to the evening.
EDWINS has grown to include an award-winning fine French restaurant, Butcher Shop, Bakery and EDWINS TOO, a culinary incubator, community kitchen, event and makers’ space. EDWINS TOO, formerly occupied by Doug Katz’s Fire restaurant in Shaker Square, was the setting for the after-party, where guests mingled, sipped chocolate absinthe cocktails and enjoyed live jazz music on the outdoor patio.
When asked which chef he would love to have dinner with, past or present, Chrostowski didn’t hesitate when he answered, “Undoubtedly, Fernand Point.” Considered to be the father of modern French cuisine, Chrostowski said, “He was a true bon vivant to the core.” STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY ANDREA C. TURNER
For more information about EDWINS, please visit www.edwinsrestaurant.org.