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On this week’s episode of The NOLADrinks Show with Bryan Dias, we chat with leaders and students from the Turning Tables Foundation. It’s an organization that seeks to train underserved youth in becoming bartenders giving them practical skills and assisting with job placement.

Pictured above from left – Bryan Dias of The NOLADrinks Show, Ronnie Richardson, Touré Foulkes, Jaz Bradley, and Faith Shepherd of Turning Tables.

NOLADrinks Show – Turning Tables Foundation – Jan20Ep2

We start things off with some thoughts on when it’s too late to say, “Happy New Year” and what’s up on this week’s show. We also acknowledge Martin Luther Kind Day as well as the upcoming Chinese New Year. We let you know about the New Orleans Bourbon Festival happening in March.

Then, we’re off to Pax New Orleans, a coffee shop located on Claiborne in the Tremé (note – they will be re-opening soon, which is great news – we’ll keep you posted!) for our featured interview with the Turning Tables Foundation. This excellent program seeks to train underserved youth, with an emphasis on people of color, on getting into the bartending profession.

We’re joined by program director and local bartender, Touré Foulkes, one of the program mentors and also a local bartender, Jaz Bradley, and two students, Faith Shepherd and Ronnie Richardson. We talk about the program, including how it got started and its initial funding from the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation as well as sponsorship by Liberty’s Kitchen, a local non-profit.

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Also, we discuss the curriculum and training, the mentorship component, and the breadth of education and hands-on experience the students gain. We get a sense from Faith and Ronnie about what they have gained from participating in Turning Tables and where we might see them “behind the stick” in the very near future.

Additionally, we talk about the importance of the program on numerous levels. This includes touching on the need in the industry for skilled bartenders and how, yet, the unemployment rate of young persons, particularly persons of color, is very high in New Orleans. We discuss some of the barriers and lack of opportunity that can be present for many seeking to work behind the bar. Of note, we chat about how the benefits of what having a local bartender in-the-know about NOLA can mean for an employer, too. (As we often say on this show, information is transmitted in bars, especially here in New Orleans!)

Pictured above from left – Bryan Dias of The NOLADrinks Show, Faith Shepherd, Jaz Bradley, Touré Foulkes, and Ronnie Richardson of Turning Tables.

We continue the conversation on our exclusive podcast-only segment, “Another Shot with NOLADrinks.” Here, we continue some of the threads we chatted about in the previous segments. We also touch on the idea on the “front of house, back of house divide” and, perhaps, some news ways to consider that as well as other salient issues such as wages and tipping.

(BTW – that’s just another heavy New Orleans downpour you hear for a bit that gave us pause!)

We close things out with our “Parting Shot” reflecting on Martin Luther King Day and some connected thoughts.

If you would like to support the Turning Tables Foundation with a donation to keep this terrific program, you can do so by visiting this site here.

The map below shows the location of Pax New Orleans. They currently host regular pops-up and are set to re-open very soon! Thanks to them for hosting us! Check ‘em out!

You can subscribe to, stream, and download The NOLADrinks Show with Bryan Dias podcast using the links and player at the top of the post. Hey – we’re now also found on Pandora and Deezer!

Cheers, You All!

~ Bryan