Social Crust Cafe & Catering was launched in October of 2014 (formerly known as Cafe 335) as a social enterprise of Coast Mental Health. In partnership with Coast’s Culinary Skills Training Program, we provide a safe space for young adults with barriers to employment the opportunities to gain commercial kitchen experience, learn soft skills, and enter the workforce in a working café.
The CMH Culinary Skills Training Program provides hands-on training to at-risk young adults recovering from mental health illness and other barriers. The program is taught by Red Seal Certified Chef instructors and the curriculum covers four months of not only cooking theory and techniques, but also essential life skills. Students then enter practicum work experience, working alongside cafe support staff, which includes industry experienced professionals and program alumni.
After the practicum and upon graduation, students are given the opportunity to apply for work at the cafe for positions ranging from prep cooks, line cooks, stewards and cashiers. Once employed by the cafe, the youth receive further support from the Cafe Training Program in developing their soft skills such as communication, teamwork, time management, and organizational skills -- all essential skills that set them up to be independent, employment ready, and successful in transitioning to further opportunities.
Our mission is to empower youth and instill in them the confidence to not just overcome their barriers, but to also improve on their quality of life. We do this by providing food safe and restaurant skills training, supportive employment, and mentorship tailored to each individual. We don’t break the stigma of mental health for our youth, it’s the youth that break the stigma for us.
Sam Axelson first learned about Coast’s Culinary Skills Training program from a social worker who knew he enjoyed cooking. When he started class, Sam says “I just really loved the fact that I’d be able to cook my heart out without anybody holding me back.”
He quickly discovered the boost to his well-being that came with the program. “The program has so much to offer beyond cooking,” he reflects. “The teachers: all of them are next level teachers. Not only do they teach well, but the way that they show their care for their students made me want to show up every single day. And it also made me want to cook more.”
At the start of his studies, Sam lacked the confidence to prepare a meal even for himself. With support, Sam learned to trust himself and his skills. Today, he is head produce manager at a boutique grocery store. Your generosity provides supportive training programs for young people like Sam so they can learn how to manage their symptoms in a work environment, grow their confidence, and find meaningful work that supports their recovery.
Meet some of our amazing team! Our staff are graduates from the Coast Mental Health Culinary Program.