H.A.V.E. Culinary Training Society – An Oasis of Calm on the Downtown Eastside

It is 9am on a Friday morning, the traffic on Powell Street is constant. The one-way street is busy with cars and buses heading downtown and with people walking in either direction, some quickly passing by with heads down while others stop to chat and have a smoke. At the end of the block on the corner is the Sunrise Market, already bustling with people lined up at the till buying their groceries for the day or rummaging through the rows of colourful vegetables and fruit in large wooden bins outside by the sidewalk.

Mid way up the block at 374 Powell Street, a glass door is partially open and from inside the faint aroma of coffee and bacon escapes through the gap and greets all those who know to come in. Robert is at the counter waiting to offer a warm cup of coffee (espresso too) and the choices for morning breakfast are plentiful and deliciously appetizing. Over to the side are several people, all wearing chef jackets, eating breakfast while laughing and chatting.

This serene and inviting oasis is a welcome haven for many on the Downtown Eastside. The food, like the café, is comforting and the staff are friendly and welcoming. The regulars are a true reflection of the diverse community of people who live and work in the area, and everyone is treated equally and without judgement. They come for the hospitality and amazing food, but end up having access to so much more.

This is H.A.V.E. Café, which is part of H.A.V.E. (Hope Action Values Ethics) Culinary Training Society (H.A.V.E.): a registered charity and non-profit society that provides food service job training and work opportunities to individuals in Vancouver who have experienced some kind of barrier to finding work but all share the desire to learn and develop the skills they need to get a job working in the food industry.

H.A.V.E. is also Goodly Foods’ employment and production partner. They will be managing the production process in our kitchen at the newly built Commissary Connect on Laurel Street in Vancouver. This will include employing, training, and managing the staff who will be making all of our Goodly™ branded soups. We couldn’t be more excited and proud to be working with the incredible team behind this small but mighty social enterprise.

Now in its 11th year, H.A.V.E. has successfully trained over 1000 students with over 75% of those students gaining steady employment in the tourism and hospitality industry. They currently offer two programs out of their downtown location: an eight week culinary training program that teaches students the basics and an advanced ITA Professional Cook 1 Program (the first level towards becoming a Red Seal certified chef). Key to their successful placement of students is how they work closely with food and beverage industry partners (such as Goodly Foods) as well by supporting students with on-the-job training, lifeskills, job search skills, and one-on-one counselling.All of the meals for H.A.V.E. Café, and their expanding catering business, are prepared by the students under the careful guidance of the Executive Director Chef Amber Anderson, and her loyal team of skilled professionals. Anderson has been with H.A.V.E. since the beginning and has worked very thoughtfully to create a safe and calm learning space for students while helping them to understand the importance of sharing a meal and preparing good food. “I wanted to create a family oriented environment. We sit and eat breakfast together every day, like a family. Eating together is huge.”

Working with her is Adriane King, the Operations and Development Director. She has been with H.A.V.E. for just over three years and wears many hats. But, the favourite part of her job is spending quality time with potential new students who wander in to find out more about the program. “I enjoy it when someone comes in a bit overwhelmed and I can just sit with them and talk…and help them figure out a plan.”

Together Adriane and Amber make a great team and both are grateful to have a job that they love and where they can play to their strengths every day knowing that their styles complement each other. “I have the passion and drive and vision to see where we can go” says Amber “and Adriane is the planner and pays attention to all the details.” Working alongside with them are a talented and dedicated crew who strive to create a learning environment where students can thrive. This includes Chef Richard Rheaume as the Executive Catering Chef and Instructor, Glenda Phillips the Assistant Chef Instructor (and an acclaimed graduate of the program), Robert Jamieson in charge of Front of House Operations, and Laura Hadden the Counsellor and Job Developer.

Next time you are downtown and needing a cup of coffee or are hungry for a hearty breakfast or tasty lunch, take the time to pop into H.A.V.E. Café and say hello (don’t forget to check out their daily specials). You won’t be disappointed. The prices are incredibly reasonable and all proceeds go to support students who can take the programs at no cost (you can also support them by sponsoring a student). While there you might also want to pick up a copy of their catering menu and consider giving them a call for your next event. Not only will you be supporting students to hone their craft but you will also be helping to make it possible for someone else to start their culinary journey through one of their training programs.

To learn more about H.A.V.E. Culinary Training Society CLICK HERE