SHELTON, Conn. -- At first glance, MCK Gourmet in Shelton looks like any other office park restaurant with its array of salads, sandwiches, and hot food, but scratch the service and you'll find a teaching institute, the fruition of Owner Kashia Cave's mission.
Cave, a professional chef who grew up in Trinidad eating and cooking fresh-from-the-farm food, saw a need when she moved to the U.S. to help educate underserved kids in the community who don't know how to cook.
Her non-profit, My City Kitchen , which she's run for nine years, is all about culinary education for those ages six to 17. The organization teaches basic kitchen skills and works with inner city youth as well as Boys and Girls Clubs, juvenile detention and family centers.
And now she's bringing that education to her new Shelton cafe, which opened March 28. The restaurant, she said, can help transition some of her graduates into the real world with on-the-job training.
The cafe, a for-profit business, also supports the non-profit, she said.
She already has one student working for her and expects more in the future. In addition, she will be running cooking classes at the new site for both adults and children.
The full-service restaurant, which features international dishes among its entrees, is open 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Thursday; and to 1:30 p.m. on Friday.
Chef Cave also plans to bring in featured chefs each month including Ramin Ganeshram, a cookbook author who's known for her specialized knowledge of Trinidad & Tobago cuisine, and Levine Alvira, who has captured hearts with her Mediterranean cuisine.
Cave is also partnering with Pietro Pollizzi, president of Entore Extra Virgin Olive Oil , a family-owned olive grove in the southern Italian region of Calabria. The oil is sold exclusively through the cafe and a portion of the oils sold will benefit Cave's kids cooking program.