Osage Cafe: Where Food Meets Community Vision

Dec 4, 2013

Nearly 100 students have graduated from the Denver Housing Authority's Youth Culinary Academy. A few of them get to sharpen their skills at the school's working restaurant, Osage Cafe (1099 Osage), in the Mariposa District. "Culinary Arts with a Mission," says the website. It claims to be Denver's "first community-based culinary training center." Osage Cafe also offers community classes on healthy, affordable cooking. 


KUVO visited the kitchen, where Chef Mimi Banish gave us a tour. We also met Leandra at the drink station (but she won't tell us what's in their signature beverage, "The Sunrise Spice"). It was tasty. The Philly cheesesteak was too tidy for my greasy-fingered tastes. The "loaded baked potato soup" was amazing.


Lynne Picard, director of Workforce Development and Community Initiatives for the Denver Housing Authority also appears in the feature.


The restaurant is an LLC, wholly owned by the Youth Employment Academy, which plugs youth from Denver's public housing communities into training opportunities. The cafe was built with start-up capital from the City and County of Denver, Denver Office of Economic Development, Colorado Health Foundation and JP Morgan Chase & Co. "I would like to see the Osage self-sufficient within the next 18 months," said Damon McIntyre, lead coordinator for Education and Employment Services with the Denver Housing Authority.


The website is www.osagecafe.org.


Music in this feature from Kenny Dope and Bobby Hutcherson, "La Malanga," from the 2004 CD Blue Note Revisited.