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Chef Curtis Stone hosted an intimate lunch at Gwen, his high-end butcher shop and restaurant on Sunset Boulevard, on Sunday to showcase his success working with Chrysalis, a nonprofit dedicated to helping people struggling to find meaningful employment.
Chrysalis CEO Mark Loranger spoke to the challenge of finding jobs for people who have criminal records, who have long periods of unemployment or who are struggling to overcome substance abuse.
“They need an employer that’s willing to say, ‘I’m going to hire you for your potential and who you are today moving forward, as opposed to who you’ve been in your past.’ Curtis is an example of someone who truly believes in that,” he said.
Arriving guests were greeted with signature cocktails like the Butcher’s Block Bloody Mary and a blueberry gin smoothie as they chatted and browsed Gwen’s butcher’s case showcasing maple bacon, Scottish game and Wagyu beef.
A warm welcome from Chef Stone was followed by a hearty family style lunch was served that included tender brisket, fried chicken, coleslaw and mac and cheese.
After the feast, Stone told his guests, many of whom were successful restaurateurs, why he was such a sincere believer in the Chrysalis program.
“[My employees from the program] have proved themselves to be the most reliable, honest, trustworthy employees that I’ve had, and I get goose bumps talking about them because they’re all here today, and I love every single one of them,” an emotional Stone told the crowd. “What I’ve found with the people we’ve employed from Chrysalis is that they’re happy to have a job and they were really grateful to cook the family dinner that we served today.”
Stone estimates that he’s hired at least 40 employees from Chrysalis, a few of whom spoke to how much the program had done for them.
Byron Wade Taylor told of his struggle with an addiction to methamphetamine and how finding a job as a cook at Gwen had changed his life.
“I was in and out of jail. I had a son at 20. I missed 12 years of his life. He turned 13 in January, and I spent that birthday with him because of Curtis Stone and Chrysalis. I made the decision to change and it was rocky. It was hard. It was very hard to change. Nobody was there for me and wanted to give me a chance.”
But a chance meeting with another successful graduate of the program led him to Chrysalis and a new life.
Since 1984, Chrysalis has found jobs and provided employment services to more than 50,000 people in the greater Los Angeles area.
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