Restaurant owner starting culinary school for refugees

Apr 14, 2023, 11:21 AM | Updated: 11:52 am

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah entrepreneur is creating a space for new restaurant workers to learn the craft.

Lavanya Mahate knows the art of Indian cuisine and she understands the challenges immigrants face when moving to a new country. So, she’s combining her love of food and service to help Utah refugees.

“From the age of six, I remember cooking in my family kitchen. We had a lady who helped us with our cooking as is very common in India. She’s the one that taught me how to make spice blends and make sweets.”

The lessons learned in the kitchen have served her well. After moving to Utah in 2001, she embarked on a journey which took her to graduate school at the University of Utah and two-year internship at the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce.

“After that, the Salt Lake Chamber sponsored me for a visa. I worked there for 8 years,” she said.

Mahate started her own line of spice blends at the farmers market and then in 2011, opened her first Saffron Valley restaurant – featuring authentic, one-of-a kind Indian dishes. There are now five in the Salt Lake Valley.

“People have helped me get to where i am today and I feel so blessed.”

Mahate’s latest venture allows her to pay it forward. In the back of her Sugar House restaurant, she’s building the RISE Culinary Institute. This is where refugees will get three months of hands-on culinary training, for free.

“And then we have local partners, restaurant partners who will take these trainees as interns a paid internship for six months.”

It’s her solution to helping with the labor shortage in the restaurant industry and supporting refugees, like her who want to be a part of their new community.

“We want RISE to be a safe space where they can come and learn the skills, not only the hard skills of culinary training,” Mahate said. “But also, gain the confidence to go out and find their voice, find their place. Just live their dreams.

The weather has delayed construction on RISE, but it’s expected to open sometime in May so trainees can get to work.

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

Juno Uyematsu picks fruit on the Anderson farm for employment as a kid." (Courtesy: Juno Uyematsu)...

Erin Cox

Utah museum calls for oral histories, trying to share Utah’s Japanese history

One family is partnering with their local museum to help tell a story we know very little about, and they need your help.

2 hours ago

The scene of the fatal hit and run near 900 E 6300 S....

Brianna Chavez

Murray police search for suspect who killed an elderly man in hit-and-run crash

Murray City police say a man in his 70s was hit and killed by a car on Friday night, and they are looking for the person responsible.

6 hours ago

FILE: Attendees at the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Conference Center....

Eliza Pace

20 new temples announced during October 2023 General Conference

The locations of 20 new temples were announced during the 193rd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

6 hours ago

Car accident on US189 on October 1, 2023. (Steve Fisher)...

Mary Culbertson and Shelby Lofton, KSL TV

One killed in collision near Deer Creek Reservoir

A fatal car crash in Provo Canyon involving a truck pulling a trailer and a semi-truck killed at least one person.

9 hours ago

The Osmonds: Faith, Family, and Fame is a documentary celebrating the amazing contributions the Osm...

Carole Mikita

The Osmonds: Faith, Family and Fame

The Osmonds is a documentary that gives a behind-the-scenes look inside the iconic Osmond Family. Through rare archival footage and interviews, the segment is a tribute and celebration of the remarkable contributions the family made to music, entertainment, and the world at large.

10 hours ago

Salt Lake Police Vehicle (SLCPD)...

Mary Culbertson

Three arrested in overnight shooting in Westpointe

An overnight shooting took place in Westpointe Park, resulting in one minorly injured in the hospital, and three arrests made by the SLCPD Gang Unit.

11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Design mockup half in white and half in color of luxury house interior with open plan living room a...

Lighting Design

Lighting Design 101: Learn the Basics

These lighting design basics will help you when designing your home, so you can meet both practical and aesthetic needs.

an antler with large horns int he wilderness...

Three Bear Lodge

Yellowstone in the Fall: A Wildlife Spectacle Worth Witnessing

While most people travel to this park in the summer, late fall in Yellowstone provides a wealth of highlights to make a memorable experience.

a diverse group of students raising their hands in a classroom...

Little Orchard Preschool

6 Benefits of Preschool for Kids

Some of the benefits of preschool for kids include developing independence, curiosity, and learning more about the world.

rodeo contestant on a saddle bronc...


Get Ready for the Days of ‘47 Rodeo!

The Days of '47 Rodeo is a series of events everyone in the family can enjoy, with world-class rodeo contestants vying for the gold medal.

Electric LED Lightbulb Change In Light At Home...

Lighting Design

How to Know When to Upgrade Your Lighting

This guide explores indicators that suggest it’s time for a lighting upgrade with tips to make an informed decision when you’re ready to buy. 

Brunette guy in headphones playing games on his desktop computer...

PC Laptops

Looking For a New Computer? Use This Desktop Buying Guide

Choosing a new desktop computer can come with a lot of questions, so we created this desktop buying guide.

Restaurant owner starting culinary school for refugees