Skip To Content
Get Our Newsletter

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe

Kerry Brodie: Chef To Refugees

At Kerry Brodie’s restaurant, Emma’s Torch, diners can choose between coffee-crusted beef brisket and autumn squash cavatelli, red and gold beets with maple vinaigrette or brussels sprouts with chili vinegar. This is not just any autumnal menu; the restaurant is named for Emma Lazarus, the author of the poem on the base of the Statue of Liberty, and these dishes are the handiwork of 70 refugees, asylees and survivors of human trafficking who take classes in cooking, English as a second language and interview prep through the restaurant’s affiliated nonprofit. Brodie, a 29-year-old graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education who learned to cook from her grandmother, started the organization in 2016. It has enrolled students from 35 countries.

Brodie was nominated by a reader, who said: “Her work exemplifies the Jewish principle set for by Maimonides that the highest level of giving is to help another person become self-sufficient.”

Kerry Brodie

Kerry Brodie

Breakfast Sometimes just coffee, or if I am lucky my husband makes the best omelettes!

What’s the last thing you listened to on your phone? NPR’s “How I Built This.”

Earliest Jewish memory: Lighting Shabbat candles with my mother.

Heroes: Emma Lazarus, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and my grandmothers.

2019 memory: This year I had the chance to bring my newborn daughter to meet our students at Emma’s Torch. It was a highlight introducing her the incredible people I get to see everyday.

What is your favorite thing about being Jewish? The idea that we can and must constantly strive to make the world a better place. I feel so fortunate to be part of a community who sees that as its mission.

Weekend ritual: Having Shabbat dinner with my family. For me, lighting shabbat candles, and hearing kiddush helps me to feel centered after a long week.

Read more:

Kerry featured as a CNN Hero

Photos and more information about Kerry’s restaurant

Follow Kerry Brodie @EmmasTorch and @EmmasTorchFood




Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free under an Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives Creative Commons license as long as you follow our republishing guidelines, which require that you credit Foward and retain our pixel. See our full guidelines for more information.

To republish, copy the HTML, which includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline, and credit to Foward. Have questions? Please email us at

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.