Empowering youth at risk with skills to build their future

The Water Tower Culinary Training Center







Build an industrial-sized, fully equipped kitchen that will function as an exemplary culinary education center with state-of-the-art food manufacturing capabilities.


Give at-risk teenagers the skills and support to enable them to return to mainstream education or move into


Failure to meaningfully intervene in the lives of at-risk youth perpetuates the risk to their emotional and physical wellbeing. Empowering and enabling them to build a future will help them to avoid possible incarceration and self-harm, and benefit wider society as well.


In Tel Aviv-Yafo today, there are approximately 3,500 children and youth officially deemed at-risk. The Department for Children and Youth Advancement in the Municipality of Tel Aviv-Yafo oversees and develops innovative interventions to help these children. One of the most effective models for teenagers who have completely dropped out of school is social businesses, as these provide the intervention and direction needed for them to return to mainstream education or move into employment. Overseen by multidisciplinary professional teams, these projects provide the participants with coaching, training, and hands-on tools for use in the workplace or for running a business. Based on its proven track record of delivering social businesses that transform the lives of participating youth, The Department is now proposing an extension of an existing successful business that is already operational and connects youth with the world of cooking and baking. The goal is to scale effective interventions and create the infrastructure to enable the social business to become self-sustaining.


According to the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, and Social Services, there are over two million children and teens in Israel, 330,000 of whom are officially recognized as being in distress and at-risk. In 2015, 44,000 minors were referred to social services for treatment, as a result of neglect (33.5%), physical abuse (26%), or sexual abuse (11%). Almost three-quarters of the at-risk children were mistreated by a family member in a position of responsibility (Israel National Council for the Child). Often, these teenagers engage in risky or life-threatening behaviors, drop out of educational frameworks, disconnecting themselves from positive, healthy role models. Failure to meaningfully intervene in the lives of these youth perpetuates the risk to their emotional and physical well-being. Some of the youth are likely to face future incarceration, while others may physically harm themselves. Their delinquent behavior clearly also has an adverse effect on the social, health, and economic aspects of wider society.


The project is to establish the Water Tower Culinary Training Center, which will employ 40 at-risk youth each year in a cooking school. The program will deliver professional training in the culinary arts (and related business aspects), psychosocial intervention, as well as offering participants the opportunity to complete their studies. The current educational kitchen needs to be remodeled and expanded to become an industrial-level kitchen, suitable for commercial food manufacturing. There are also plans to renovate and design the space inside the adjacent historic water tower to accommodate an Ottolenghiinspired restaurant.

Once built, the center will be used for:

– Training. The participants will receive training in a variety of role within the food industry, including waiting, cooking, assisting in the kitchen, and inventory management. Each student will receive a
professional uniform, including a chef suit, apron, shoes, and a
chef’s knife.
– Manufacturing. The participants will experience hands-on manufacturing processes. They will produce catered meals and food products that will be sold to the general public. This aspect of the project will be revenue-generating and help support the overall program.
– Psychosocial Treatment. The staff involved in the Water Tower Culinary Training Center will provide professional support and mentoring.
– Education. The curriculum will train participants for professional certification in the culinary arts. Students will learn culinary science, culinary intelligence, and food history. Staff will assist them to complete the academic requirements and receive their diplomas.
– Financial Independence. The youth will receive fair wages for work undertaken and be taught basic financial literacy and how to open a bank account so that they have a secure place to deposit their salaries.

The Water Tower will be run by Shaul Froynd, Chef, and Director of the Social Businesses Program at the Municipality of Tel Aviv-Yafo. Shaul brings extensive educational, business, and culinary experience from Israel and abroad. He has worked at Ottolenghi, Sadlers Wells, and The Northgate in London and Michelin Star restaurants in the Basque country and ran “The Recipe” catering company for 3 years. Since he joined the municipality in 2010, he has run two profitable social businesses for youth-at-risk, developed dozens of programs, and won the employee of the year award in 2013.

The new industrial-sized, fully-equipped educational professional kitchen will be based in the existing municipal building on 34 Mazeh Street in central Tel Aviv, near Rothschild Boulevard. This is a prime location, as it is one of the most robust business centers in Israel, packed with financial services, a vibrant hi-tech scene, a strong community of residents, and a tourist hub. Once operational, the Water Tower Culinary Training Center is designed to become self-sustaining through the sale of food items and meals to surrounding municipal institutions and private sector companies.


Ben was referred for help by the Department for Children and Youth Advancement in Tel Aviv-Yafo eleven years ago as a typical at-risk youth. He was introduced to the high school culinary program overseen by the
Department. He discovered his passion for cooking and hidden talent. Now certain that he wanted to be a chef, Ben did all he could do to achieve his dream. He managed to complete ten years of formal education despite significant learning disabilities, before training to become a sous chef. He has since performed in various competitions including San Pellegrino’s “The Young Chef” where he was awarded second place. Today, Ben is the Sous Chef of MESSA, a leading Israeli restaurant. Ben has also settled down, married, and is father to a baby boy. Now, Ben gives back by volunteering as a mentor for other culinary students who share similar backgrounds.


Ongoing, as a social business, the culinary training center is designed to be self-sustaining through the revenue it generates through food sales.

Total Cost $1,430,000

Contribution from the Municipality of Tel Aviv-Yafo to initial development stage $580,000

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