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From Inmate to Chef: EDWINS' Decade of Transforming Lives

Updated: Dec 3, 2023

CLEVELAND, OH - In an extraordinary tale of redemption and culinary brilliance, EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute is gearing up to mark its remarkable journey of offering formerly incarcerated individuals a second chance. Founded by Brandon Chrostowski, EDWINS is a testament to the potential of rehabilitation and personal growth, and it is celebrating a decade of transforming lives. This significant milestone will be commemorated with a special month-long celebration, featuring a series of delectable culinary events that showcase the exceptional talents nurtured by the institute.

A Vision of Second Chances

What might feel like a lifetime ago for the owner, Brandon Chrostowski, was a period marked by youthful mistakes and trouble. He found himself on the wrong side of the law, dealing drugs, and facing a judge who, instead of locking him behind bars for a decade, offered a second chance with probation. Chrostowski embraced this opportunity, initially working at a restaurant in his hometown of Detroit. Slowly but steadily, he honed his culinary skills, eventually earning a spot at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America. His culinary journey led him to some of the world's gastronomic capitals, including Paris and New York.

In a heartwarming testament to the power of second chances, Chrostowski founded EDWINS, a culinary institute where every student shares a history of run-ins with the law. EDWINS, an acronym for "Education Wins," provides a transformative educational experience, akin to a restaurant boot camp. Here, students not only acquire impressive culinary skills but also participate in comprehensive educational programs. These skills not only provide them with life skills and employment prospects but also serve as a deterrent, keeping them out of trouble with the law.

Beyond Bars: Bridging the Gap

EDWINS' impact extends even further. Chrostowski has dedicated himself to working with inmates still incarcerated, some with violent and extensive criminal records. He empowers them with the art and skills necessary to thrive in the food service industry, particularly in the kitchen, upon their reintegration into society.

A Decade of Success

Over the last ten years, EDWINS has flourished, impacting countless lives, and proving that everyone deserves a second chance. It has successfully transformed former inmates into culinary professionals, with over 6,000 incarcerated adults completing its online program and boasting an impressive 95% employment rate among its graduates, along with less than 1% recidivism.

Brandon Chrostowski, the heart and soul of EDWINS, passionately expresses, "Every single day we are open, they help keep our school open and support people who deserve a second chance. We all deserve a second chance."

A Feast for the Senses: The Anniversary Celebration Lineup

To honor a decade of remarkable achievements, EDWINS has curated an exquisite culinary journey, featuring some of the nation's most acclaimed chefs. Here's what's on the menu:

October 7: Chanterelle in the City

A six-course tasting menu celebrating the renowned Chanterelle restaurant in New York City. The event features the culinary prowess of chefs Karen and David Waltuck, winners of numerous James Beard Awards, along with master sommelier Roger Dagorn.

Time: 6 p.m., Cost: $195 per person

October 15: Cambodia Culture and Cuisine

Embark on a flavorful journey with Chicago chef and James Beard Awards semifinalist, Mona Sang, as she presents a six-course tour of Cambodian cuisine.

Time: 6 p.m., Cost: $195 per person

November 4: Anniversary Gala

A grand celebration featuring a six-course tasting menu that highlights EDWINS' past, present, and future, crafted by head chef Brandon Chrostowski.

Time: 6 p.m., Cost: $250 per person

This tantalizing lineup promises a culinary journey like no other, with each event not only celebrating the institute's success but also spotlighting the remarkable talents of its graduates.

Expanding Hope: Family Housing

In an inspiring move, EDWINS has expanded its campus by adding a 14-unit Family Housing building. This addition aims to provide employees and program participants with the opportunity to live with their partners and children, creating an inclusive environment that supports successful reintegration into society.

About EDWINS: Changing Lives, One Plate at a Time

EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute is more than a culinary school; it's a life-transforming program that equips formerly incarcerated adults with the tools they need to build a brighter future. The institute offers a wide range of services, from culinary training to housing, legal assistance, medical care, clothing, job coaching, and literacy programs. EDWINS has become a symbol of hope, boasting a 95% employment rate and less than 1% recidivism among its graduates.

In a world that often emphasizes retribution, EDWINS stands as a beacon of hope, proving that everyone deserves a second chance. Join in the celebration, savor the culinary delights, and show your support for this extraordinary cause.

For tickets and more information about the 10th-anniversary events, please visit EDWINS' official website.

video source: CBS


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