Chef Bobby Anderson could have continued working at the world's finest restaurants after finishing fourth on the fourth season of Hell's Kitchen in 2008. But he discovered the true recipe to happiness was giving back to others. In 2009, he founded F BITES, a non-profit organization that trains adolescents and adults in culinary arts to become useful members of society. He manages Cantina, Cataract House Restaurant & Academy and the Sunshine BBQ food truck, all of which employ teenagers.
“When it comes to this generation, you hear everybody say, ‘Oh, these kids don't know soft skills and home economics don't do nothing for them, they’re sewing pillows.' So I created these programs where they actually do the work.
"The kids are in charge of the cash register and their own tins, and they get paid,” Anderson shared when EBONY visited the three establishments in Niagara Falls, New York.
Anderson’s past includes executing elaborate menus at two restaurants owned by Gordon Ramsay in Manchester and London, England, a rare opportunity for many of the popular FOX network series contestants.
Anderson also ran several top restaurants in Buffalo. "They didn't realize they had a Black chef making the sauce,” he jokes. But words from Ramsay led the ambitious chef down the path of entrepreneurship. “Ramsay told me, 'Bobby you're a damn good cook. If you straighten up, you can participate in the real American Dream,' and I said, ‘OK!'"
Anderson says the words were an epiphany. Now he’s hoping to pass on that fire to the youngsters he’s working with.
The program is designed to teach its participants the responsibilities of soft skills. "They know they have to clean up and look neat and have their pants pulled up. I don’t have to tell them to have their aprons on, and they give the most amazing customer service,” he declared.
At his F BITES spaces, Anderson keeps the menus simple. "When I'm putting together these venues I only list ten items. I don't go over ten, it's not a booklet,” he laughed. “I know we can make every item on here.”
The only thing left? Teaching the kids how to cook. "But cooking isn't really the important part of this. It’s the last component," he exclaimed. "I used food because who doesn't like food?”
Or seeing the next generation succeed in business.
Visit F BITES for more information on Chef Anderson's comprehensive program.