By JOSEPH PHILLIPS
Newly hired Chef Rafa Esparza of A10 restaurant, 1462 E. 53rd St., was not only hired to create recipes, develop menus and cook award-winning meals from the kitchen but to continue the community outreach program established by owner Chef Matthias Merges.
Esparza, a chef with over 13 years of experience in the food industry, is currently mentoring two students from the Gary Comer Youth Center (GCYC), who are a part of the center’s farming program. The two students are now interns at the Hyde Park restaurant.
“This internship could open doors for my future,” said Devonte
Phillips, an intern at A10 restaurant. “A10 is an upscale restaurant and to have this internship is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
With the two new additions of GCYC program interns Devonte Phillips and Matthew Pittman to A10’s staff, the culinary students are looking to obtain experience and explore future roles in the restaurant industry.
“There’s one thing to hear theory,” said Chef Esparza about the interns obtaining culinary experience at the restaurant. “But when you are out here in the real world or applying it to real-life, getting this type of experience is cool.”
GCYC doesn’t stop supporting educational efforts once students graduate high school. They offer academic, social/emotional and financial support through the entire college journey, including GCYC’s college success initiative, UtmostU, which provides comprehensive support so graduates can realize their full potential.
Over the years, A10 has maintained a great working relationship with the Gary Comer Youth Center. The restaurant has featured a number of items on its menu from their farm and looks to acquire more interns in the near future.