Ror Akot is a refugee. He came to Australia from South Sudan, a country embroiled in civil war. He’s only 18. And he wants to cook you dinner.
Not-for-profit social enterprise Scarf offers mentored programs to hospitality trainees. And as part of its winter dinner series, launching on June 9 at the Lincoln Hotel (just in time to celebrate National Refugee Week), Akot will have that chance. Running every Tuesday until July 28, Do More than Dine is a chance for Scarf's trainees – refugees and asylum seekers who want to get a foot in the door of the hospitality industry – to put their new-found skills to the test in a real restaurant environment.
For $40 a head, diners will be treated to a two-course menu from the Lincoln’s head chef, Lachlan Cameron (ex-MoVida Aqui and Supernormal), served by young people in Scarf's 10-week training course. “Customers really like seeing the mentoring take place, they like seeing the learning as it’s happening,” Scarf co-founder Hannah Colman says. “It's a pretty great night out. It’s a very celebratory atmosphere because you have all these little breakthroughs happening – a trainee learns to pour wine for the first time, or clears a table and can carry three plates in one hand.”
During the Scarf program, Akot and his fellow trainees will learn about all aspects of front-of-house service: They will receive training in coffee at the Vertue of the Coffee Drink, learn about cocktails at Kelvin Bar in Northcote and beer at Little Creatures, and learn bar skills at Kitty Somerset. “I am very excited. I can’t wait to get everything started,” Akot says. “I would love to work in the hospitality industry, learn the ups and downs and stand next to the right people who are passionate about what they do and are on the path of starting business in the field.”
Since it started in 2010, Scarf has trained more than 75 young asylum seekers and refugees, with great success. “Seven out of 10 are working after doing our program, we're pretty chuffed with that.” Colman says. "You meet someone at the beginning of the program and to be able to support them to build their confidence, skills and belief in themselves. It’s pretty amazing actually.”
To book your place at Scarf's Do More than Dine email firstname.lastname@example.org.