participants in the Empower LA culinary school, housed at LA Kitchen, for at-risk community members including those who have been incarcerated, are homeless or aged out of foster care (photos courtesy of
Not many people would think of going to a kitchen to heal, but one man’s amazing mission has turned cooking and serving others into a tried-and-true therapy. Visionary Robert Egger founded LA Kitchen in 2015 with a simple, yet challenging and powerful goal: neither food nor people should ever go to waste.

This 20,000-square-foot facility just north of downtown Los Angeles accomplishes that mission and then some. From turning reclaimed food into meals for social service agencies to running a for-profit business, which uses “imperfect” food to make healthy products for sale, this bustling operation is transforming the concept of recycling. But there’s no doubt it’s the company’s culinary job training program where the magic begins.

Called Empower LAEmpower LA, this unique school admits 22 new students, every 14 weeks. These are not your typical applicants, however. All of the participants have either been incarcerated, homeless or aged out of foster care.

Robert explains, “At LA Kitchen, we take the things most view as part of the problem and try to reveal that they can be part of the solution, if viewed as assets.” Indeed, this is a place of second chances where people come first.

LA Kitchen is the anchor tenant of LA Prep, a commercial kitchen space licensed for wholesale use for approximately 50 small- to medium-sized food producers. The LADF helped finance the LA Prep/LA Kitchen Project which entailed the substantial rehabilitation of a 55,846 square foot industrial building in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles.
May 2018