This Women-Run Gourmet Catering Company Trains Refugee Women in Cooking and Service

The global refugee crisis is ever-present in the news these days, but the United States has received displaced peoples from all over the world for a long time now. The catering company we'll tell you about today found in this crisis the inspiration for its mission: to train and employ refugee women who are eager to establish new, fulfilling lives in their new homes.


Ratatouille and Company is the brainchild of two women, who each left their careers to follow a dream related to food. For American Evelyn Isaia, when a decades-long career in wealth management started to lose its luster, she "decided it was time to change course." She knew she wanted to find personal fulfillment by helping people succeed. As if by destiny, through a mutual friend Evelyn met Hong Thaimee, a restauranteur and chef who shared both Evelyn's passion for culinary arts and desire to help others.

Originally employed by a pharmaceutical company in Bangkok, Hong transformed her career based on a similar feeling as the one that struck Evelyn:

"I decided that I'd like to live each day of my life to love and serve people and what better way to do that than through food?" says the current chef/owner of Ngam in New York, cookbook author, global speaker, and humanitarian activist.

Hong and Evelyn's combined expertise provides Ratatouille's trainees with a powerful combination of creative culinary practice and business skills. The former works with women on cooking, while the latter teaches presentation and business management, and helps them with their English. In return, Ratatouille's employees work for the active business, including creating their own recipes for use on the company's gourmet catering menu.

Through partnerships with Building One Community in Stamford and the Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants, Ratatouille has trained women from Latin America, the Middle East, and parts of Africa, but they don't want to stop there. With their official launch in 2017, Evelyn and Hong hope to expand—to help as many women and communities as possible pursue culinary and business dreams in the United States.

This HooplaHa original video was produced by Tracy Chevrier, shot by Johnny Perez, and edited by Kellie Sieban. For more inspiring videos, follow us on Facebook and sign up for our Only Good News Newsletter.

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