by EILLIE ANZILOTTI
Originally published: January 25, 2017
The industry is one of the biggest employers of ex-prisoners in the U.S., but most jobs are offered without hope of mobility or a living wage. A handful of businesses are trying to change that.
As a teenager in Detroit, Brandon Chrostowski had a bit of a reckless streak. After being arrested one night for drug-related activity, he spent a few nights behind bars while awaiting sentencing. He was offered probation, during which he met a local chef who mentored him and gave Chrostowski what he still considers the break that changed his life.
That was almost 20 years ago. From his hometown, Chrostowski enrolled in classes at the Culinary Institute of America, and landed gigs at swank restaurants like Charlie Trotters in Paris, and Le Cirque in New York. When he came to Cleveland in 2008, it was to manage one of the city’s upscale French restaurants, but he became preoccupied by the inequality in the city—and throughout the restaurant industry in which he’d spent so many years.