Immigrant women’s dream come true through cooking
In 2002, Jamie Oliver combined two ambitions: to open a top class restaurant and to give disadvantaged youngsters the chance to gain professional training that would set them up for an independent, inspired and productive life.
Mr. Oliver wasn’t the first to come up with such an idea. In 1999, Seoul’s Municipal government set up the Haja Center, also known as the Youth Factory for Alternative Culture. Operation Yori (요리), which means “cooking” in Korean, was one of the social-service organizations incubated at Haja. Operation Yori’s original mission was help young people obtain training and marketable work skills as South Korea was recovering from the Asian financial crisis that erupted in 1997.
In July 2008, Operation Haja expanded its mission to teaching cooking skills to immigrant women, women married to Korean men and single mothers.
Operation Yori runs two restaurants in at the Haja Center in Yeongdeungpo in Seoul: Harmony Restaurant and Cafe Geuraeseo. They offer cooking classes at the Haja Center and have also expanded into catering events.
According to the Korea Times, they’re planning to open a new Korean fusion restaurant in October 2009.
Organization Yori’s next step is opening an Asian fusion bistro near the Hongik University area in October. “We will offer various multicultural dishes that fit the Korean appetite,” Han said. “This multicultural bistro will offer jobs to immigrant women and be the first step on the road to Organization Yori’s competitive power in the market.”
Organization Yori has received quite some press over the last couple of months. They were the subject of a feature on Arirang TV in July. Their story was picked up by the Korea Times in August.
For more information about Operation Yori, go to the Korea Times article Immigrant Women’s Dream Come True Through Cooking and Arirang TV Multicultural Cooking. Also check out Haja‘s website to see some of the other projects they have available for teaching marketable skills to Korean teens and young adults.
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