A restaurant that pulls street children from the cycle of poverty to be trainees, and graduate into higher-level positions.
What to experience ?
At KOTO restaurants, tourists can discover a dining experience that is delivered with a smile from young people who have been empowered to change their lives. KOTO stands for “Know One Teach One”. All the restaurant’s trainees come from disadvantaged backgrounds. KOTO teaches them how to prepare and serve a blend of western and Vietnamese dishes and French-inspired pastries at the restaurant, which is located directly opposite the Temple of Literature and just a five-minute taxi drive from Hanoi’s old quarter. The latest outlet just opened is located in Ho Chi Minh on Hai Ba Trung Street.
KOTO got its start in 1999 when Jimmy Pham, an Australian-Vietnamese tour guide, was overwhelmed by the vast number of street children he met in Hanoi. He decided to become an agent of change. With funds borrowed from his mother, Jimmy opened a small sandwich shop to train and give jobs to the street kids he had befriended with. Word quickly spread, and the sandwich shop became swamped with both patrons and potential trainees. This overwhelming response prompted Jimmy to enlist Australian chef Tracey Lister to set up the first KOTO restaurant in 2000. KOTO has now been operational in Hanoi for over 10 years and opened a training centre in Ho Chi Minh City in January 2010. The Ho Chi Minh City restaurant is due to open in 2011.
How does it help ?
KOTO is a not non-profit social enterprise and is free of charge for trainees to attend. Its revenue comes largely from its restaurants and catering service, as well as its trainee sponsorship program. All profit is invested back into the organization for the good of the trainees. It has two 100-trainee capacity training centres; one in Hanoi and one in Ho Chi Minh City.
KOTO targets extremely disadvantaged 16-to-22-year-olds. The training enables trainees not only to earn money while undertaking the course, but also to attain an internationally recognised hospitality accreditation. The backgrounds of the trainees include victims of trafficking and exploitation, orphans, and street kids from both the cities and rural parts of Vietnam.
The 24-month course includes English, sex education, conflict management, financial and other business skills. All trainees are also provided with housing, medical check-ups and insurance as well as a training allowance so they can send money back to their families. KOTO also contributes to the conservation of Vietnam’s cultural heritage by teaching its students how to cook traditional dishes such as Bun Cha and Bun Bo Nam Bo, which are served alongside the western offerings.
151A Hai Ba Trung Street, District 3
Ho Chi Minh
KOTO Hanoi on Van Mieu
59 Van Mieu St. Dong Da District, Ha Noi
Tel: +84 4 3747 0337
Fax: +84 4 3747 0339
KOTO International; Marketing and Communications Manager
+84 122 324 1268