For the teen who dreams of being the world’s best pastry chef, there’s a place they can go to cook up kitchen experience, friendships and social skills. It’s called The Portland Kitchen.

As a nonprofit, The Portland Kitchen is open to all teens ages 14-18, but specifically targets underserved youths during recruitment. Their no-cost year-long program makes it easier for teens of all kinds of economic situations to jump on board. It a way for youths to learn everything from learn basic kitchen safety, to lessons about teamwork, to how to whip up a soufflé.

The organization’s founder, Abigail Herrera, planning this project in 2010. She saw a need for a culinary program that would open the doors for youths who wanted or needed the hands-on kitchen experience. So she created a program that would be a safe space for culinary career development as well as social skill building. And now graduates of The Portland Kitchen walk away with knowlage of healthy eating habits, a SafeServ certificate, job experience for their resume, a letter of recommendation and memories of a great community-building year.

This week at Portland Radio Project we featured The Portland Kitchen as part of our award-winning Community Voices series. interviews with members of the organization can be listened to below: