Future Chefs' mission

Future Chefs prepares teens for successful life and work after high school.

Our passion is cooking and we encourage our future chefs to use this training as a foundation for a broad range of academic and professional careers. Our conviction is that the hard and soft skills learned in the kitchen can be applied meaningfully in all avenues of a fulfilling life.



Founder Toni Elka started Future Chefs in 2008, believing strongly that we as a society have a collective obligation to prepare young people to find employment and lead productive lives.

Ms. Elka took action by developing a comprehensive school-to-career program, utilizing her knowledge working with youth throughout her extensive career. Her long-term vision, however, was to enrich and extend workforce development and personal growth opportunities for all teens making the crossing from adolescence to adulthood.



Future Chefs understands that by providing early employment, transferable skills training, and ongoing coaching and support, a young person will establish early patterns of success.

We believe that every student develops in a setting that provides high expectations, opportunities for growth and positive interactions with adults. Our students emerge from the program with the professional experience and confidence to pursue jobs that are both personally fulfilling and financially stable.


our Vision

Our goal is to cultivate a vibrant cohort of young professionals who are committed to advancing the culinary arts and beyond.

Through the lessons they learn at Future Chefs, we hope that they will continue to think about creative solutions whether it is in the kitchen, their communities, or the world. We encourage them in their efforts to foster a culinary industry that is inclusive, healthy, and mindful of its social and environmental impact. 



“The transition from adolescence to adulthood shapes a person's life. We ensure that young people aren’t just getting the technical skills they need, but also life skills and a meaningful connection to the adult community.”


—TONI ELKA, Executive Director & Founder