KIDS at Condesa

Café Condesa hosts KIDS Restaurant in its kitchen

It is no secret Café Condesa is one of the most popular restaurants in La Antigua Guatemala, serving world-class coffees, quiches, cakes and other delectables. What you may not know about is Condesa’s outreach work, its involvement in the community and support for local projects.

For many years Condesa has donated to Antigua’s libraries and los bomberos (fire department). It regularly gives to projects like Open Windows, an education non-profit serving San Miguel Dueñas. And in April, Condesa’s staff sold race entries for the 2013 Carrera Arco Iris, a 5k with all proceeds pledged to La Fundación Ayúdame a Vivir. The organization is fighting to cure children of cancer.

So it should come as no surprise Café Condesa jumped at the chance to host a field trip for KIDS Restaurant.

KIDS, one of the many projects run by the NGO T.E.S.S. Unlimited, is the only restaurant in Antigua run completely by, well, kids. Children from local pueblos and aldeas like San Gaspar Vivar, San Pedro Las Huertas and Santa Catarina Bobadilla study the art of cooking in after-school programs and twice a month, run a themed restaurant.

They work in the kitchen, as waiters, bartenders (no alcohol is served) and busers, and serve hungry Guatemaltecos and extranjeros alike.

KIDS loves, however, to bring its pupils to Antigua to show them what life is like in one of the city’s many restaurant and hotel kitchens. And so on a rainy day in June, the kids of KIDS visited Café Condesa.

They spent time cooking with Mayra Elizabeth Rogel, kitchen manager at Condesa for over 12 years, making favorites like apple pie with whipped cream and vegetable soup. They worked downstairs with managers and receptionists, greeting clients and handing out menus. They shadowed waitresses, taking orders, preparing drinks and learning about the art of espresso making.

The afternoon was a success for both KIDS and Condesa. A particularly apt pupil, Monica, 17, expressed what an experience the day had been. “Today was a pleasure and a great experience. My dream is to go to school and learn how to cook, to work in a kitchen, so to see how a professional kitchen works is very helpful.”

Carolina Arana de Pérez, Condesa’s general manager, commented, “I was also excited about the experience. The kids have such great attitudes. They will be great with all the experiences they are taking away.”

With the soup cooked and the pies out of the oven, KIDS and Condesa staff sat down at a large table to enjoy the fruits of their labors. Questions were asked and answered, experiences shared, and a relaxed atmosphere settled over the table, with seasoned professionals mixing with the next generation.

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