Head chef at new Ritz-Carlton hotel restaurant plans to give back to Parramore community

ORLANDO, Fla. – Access and exposure for children in Parramore are the goals for the head chef at a new restaurant opening Wednesday at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando hotel.

On Tuesday, a group of Parrramore Kidz Zone participants got to tour the new restaurant and assist with the grand opening of Knife & Spoon at the five-star hotel.

The new eatery is known for its tasty steak and seafood, but for head chef Gerald Sombright, the experience for the children goes way beyond the food.

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“We can have them come to our facility and have them be inspired by seeing somebody who looks like them, who is actually accomplishing things beyond where they come from,” Sombright said. “We wanted to open this restaurant, not just to open a restaurant, but during a pandemic, we wanted to have this beacon of hope.”

Somright, who has been on TV shows and is known for his culinary skills, said he wants to inspire the children from Parramore and regularly mentor them. Many of them are already young entrepreneurs who sell honey through a program called Black Bee Honey.

“Feeling like you have something to offer and being able to dream larger than your circumstances are,” Sombright said.

The restaurant is also vowing to a give a portion of its proceeds this year to the Parramore Kidz Zone.

“It’s just amazing being an African-American chef, and being somebody who’s feeling the community need to be invested in,” Sombright said.

It’s an investment that Jones High school senior Thierry Francois said is all worth it.

“It feels great with this opportunity to be here. A lot of people don’t get this chance,” Francois said.

Tuesday, he and many of the children from the Parramore Kidz Zone got to tour the hotel, fine dine at the new restaurant and speak with the head chef.

“I don’t think any of us have ever been here before, it’s a great experience,” Francois said.

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