Culinary Program continues to GROW
Beyond Emancipation’s beloved GROW program began as a conversation between two friends over a rack of ribs and some cold beverages. Chef, culinary artist and teacher Sarah Germany was one of those two. Sarah, fondly known as “Chef” to many, has since spent five years imparting personal wellness, health and nutrition wisdom to young people in B:E’s programs, particularly through its GROW culinary training program – an intensive 6 month program designed to prepare young people for jobs in the culinary industry.
Raised in the South Bronx, Sarah explains that she saw the effects of poverty firsthand, “Obesity-related poverty is an access and education dilemma…Twelve years ago I was 160 pounds heavier than I am today and had already buried two sisters.” Sarah set out to change this, also believing deeply that professional success starts with personal wellness. Her GROW classes reflected this as she started each day by serving her students breakfast – “kids can’t learn if they’re hungry,” she explains.
After graduating nine cohorts of GROW students, Sarah is now spreading her passion beyond B:E’s kitchen with a vision for wellness across East Oakland. Sarah reflects on her time with B:E, “I always got to be a student, even when teaching a lesson I had taught two dozen times. It’s been very humbling.” B:E and its GROW program will forever be indebted to Sarah, her energy and humor. That said, we’re excited to welcome Ana Ahnen who is taking over GROW as B:E’s Culinary, Healthy Eating and Wellness Instructor.
Ana Ahnen grew up in Brazil and credits her Peace Corps term on health and wellness in Mozambique as sparking her interest in nutrition. For the last several years she has rolled up her sleeves, sharpened her knives and honed her culinary skills in high-end restaurants, catering and classrooms. Now Ana is ready to give back and admits she keeps pinching herself with disbelief at the opportunity she’s stumbled upon with B:E.
“I’m excited to get to know the youth and provide them with some light in their day,” Ana says. Ana believes her diverse upbringing lends an authenticity to her efforts as a teacher and chef. She looks forward to sharing recipes and techniques from around the world with young people. “I want to teach the youth how big the world is through food.” Ana’s favorite things to cook (and eat!) are salad and ice cream because, she explains, “You can start with a base and improvise to make it what you want.”
As Beyond Emancipation says goodbye to Chef Sarah we warmly welcome Ana. By educating young people about their food choices, exposing them to careers in the culinary arts and teaching them how to cook on a budget, we are helping to prepare them and their families for a lifetime of success.