My partner and I recently went out to dinner in Melbourne. Our waiter seemed nervous as he poured us water and it took what seemed like minutes for him to dish up our bread using the fork and spoon technique.

It was absolutely wonderful to watch.

What? You might ask… Yes, this could sound like sub-standard service. But it wasn’t. It was heart-warming and moving.

Our dinner was part of the Scarf Community program, a non-profit organisation run by Melbourne hospitality leaders who have joined forces to mentor and train disadvantaged and marginalised youth.

Our waiter was one of the slightly nervous, but highly enthusiastic, trainees who was totally committed to providing us with an exceptional experience.

Every Monday night Scarf has been occupying one of Melbourne’s inner city restaurants, providing meals prepared, cooked and delivered by the trainees. They are running their final evening of this year’s program next week.

Scarf has had support from some well known Melbourne restaurants such as Easy Tiger, Rumi, Three Bags Full, Bistrot Flor and more who provide space for Scarf’s pop-up restaurants when their own doors are closed.

It’s a shining example of businesses supporting their communities and this is something my organisation m.a.d.woman strives to promote.

Scarf was started by a group of young hospitality professionals. Their aim is to foster relationships between trainees and mentors, so that trainees have the opportunities and connections to get the job they want, in the area of hospitality that is right for them.

With a belief that the most effective learning takes place in the middle of a busy service, they help trainees navigate the chaos of a fast-paced environment that replicates the industry in a safe and supportive environment.

Whether working in the kitchen or on the floor, trainees experience multitasking including taking customer orders, making coffees and getting food out on time. This unique program provides a safe space for trainees to learn and practice their skills – with a mentor always close at hand to guide them and answer any questions.

As a customer, this experience not only provides a chance for a great meal at a reasonable price, but it also serves as a reminder of patience, tolerance and the benefits that can be gained from giving people a chance.

We’ve had some great evenings at Scarf dinners and are looking forward to next year’s offerings. We hope you can join us.

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