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Power Station


Jun 17, 2019

When Paty Funegra was on Power Station one year ago, she told La Cocina VA’s founding story and promised to return with an update on a new capital campaign. La Cocina VA was already training and certifying unemployed Latino immigrants as food industry professionals. The next step was to scale the model, teach entrepreneurship, and serve the growing refugee population as well. 

La Cocina VA had an unlikely beginning. After immigrating to the US from Peru, Paty settled into a new career at a multinational organization. She discovered DC Central Kitchen, a small but powerful nonprofit which, under iconic leader Robert Eggers, trains jobless residents for culinary careers and brings healthy meals to urban food deserts. Paty set out to adapt this model in Northern Virginia, where the Latino immigrant community lacked access to training and jobs. Paty founded La Cocina VA, which starts by teaching English before preparing students for careers in the food industry. It also partners with employers to identify how to retain employees and ensure opportunities for advancement. La Cocina VA is now recognized as a replicable model for workforce development both nationally and internationally. It is a disruptor in a sector and field that needed this burst of energy and innovation.

Which brings us back to this latest conversation about La Cocina VA. The capitol campaign generated over $2 million for construction costs and ground has been broken for the Zero Barriers Training Center. It will include include a training center, kitchen incubator, Café, and technology center and promises to be a beacon for a immigrants, refugees, friends and neighbors. There is so much more to this conversation. Don’t miss it.