Culinary Arts Kids Eat…..C A K E is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit set to inspire under- served youth to live a healthy lifestyle. To lift youth up and… out of poverty.

Through hands on training in culinary arts youth are enriched,empowered and engaged to develop professional skills to prepare them for higher learning and/or enter the workforce.

Did you know that if a teenager grows up in a community entrenched in high crime, extreme poverty, constant cycles of violence steeped in hopelessness, he/she will most likely enter prison before he/she is 18 years of age?

If this same teenager was given an opportunity to develop a life skill…Then, these “at risk” teens will then become ambassadors of hope.

Our mission is to use the culinary arts to revolutionize the way we think of food and the profound impact it has on our youth and their health. Through investing in our culinary arts program youth will become engaged in project-based learning where the outcome is a life skill that will guide them out of poverty.

Mind - Body - Soul …… Life Balance are all ingredients in CAKE’s programs.

Culinary arts is the vehicle but CAKE has many layers!

  • Youth study: health – wellness – nutrition

  • Grow own food ~Create fresh healthy recipes

  • Practice mindful meditation ~ Yoga

  • Create cookbook “From Our Hood To Yours”

  • Interpersonal communications

  • Become social entrepreneurs

C A K E has started locally, in South Los Angeles at Santee Education Complex. Youth are deprived of basic human needs, live in constant fear, and surrounded by dangerous criminal activity.  Living in constant stress cause youth to become disengaged. Their health suffers and they slip into the cycles of poverty and violence that so often characterize their communities.

C A K E ’s goals are to work with youth, building their capacity to be catalysts of positive change in their community by providing infrastructure and increased knowledge and resources. Like a seed planted in fertile soil, with a little nourishment, an orchard will grow and thrive.

We believe in the reciprocal relationship that exists between individuals and their environments, just as environments shape behavior, individuals too can shape their environments for the better. For the healthier.  

Would you be interested in changing lives? Are you interested in transforming the South Los Angeles landscape into one of opportunity and prosperity?

Come…. let’s all work together to provide a level playing field for our youth who have been living in underserved “hoods” …. Together we will create a new landscape…. a vibrant thriving garden…where every life has a chance to bloom.

To become agents of change!


2012 :

  • Enhanced culinary arts curriculum developed and launched on the campus of Santee in Fall with 150 student cohorts   

  • American Heart Association donated 10 raised vegetable beds


  • Students created regionally inspired fresh healthy salads and served as lunch to peers.  C A K E  teamed with LAUSD Food Services to offer pilot program

  • Summer of 2013, C A K E  partners with the American Heart Association and The California Endowment to launch a six-week summer intensive training for students called Harvest with Heart


  • CAKE partners with Heart of Los Angeles Youth (HOLA) to offer a summer program to their high school students.

  • LA Times Invites students to present at The Taste held at Paramount Studios having 10,000 attendees


  • After School with C A K E  and After Work With C A K E, a 12- week program that enriches the lives of both parents and children as they learn to cook and break bread together.

  • July launched 6 week Summer Programs – preparing students for workforce and life

  • Cookbook created by C A K E students called "From Our Hood to Yours." Organic food grown by youth, developed into fresh health recipes. Young chefs also wrote personals narratives to accompany recipe.

  • Lifestyle and Cooking video's produced by teens for teens. Inspired by cookbook "From our Hood To Yours" students produced their own videos.


  • CAKE partnered with C-Cap and corporations in Hospitality Industry preparing students specifically for the local hospitality workforce, through internships and mentoring opportunities.

  • CAKE to launch own line of healthy fresh regionally inspired salads developed by advanced students: " From our Hood To Yours" to be offered at local juice spots.

  • After School Program will be available 5 days a week 

  • Global Groweables: Large scale hydroponic unit (1,000lb. of food monthly) -retrofitted freight car, growing: herbs,veggies;  used for -school lunches, community farmers market, CAKE program and community partners.

  • Partnered with Apple Inc. and created a training workshop to create e-cookbooks with CAKE students recipes


  • Joined the Kids N Fitness© program at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

  • Partnered with Wolfgang Puck to create a volunteer experience where advanced CAKE students participated in preparing meals for the 2018 Oscar's 

  • Joined C-Cap’s professional development program and worked with US Foods


  • CAKE curriculum is adapted by 5 local Pre K, Elementary and Jr. High Schools


C A K E  enriches, engages, and educates students on life skills through practical knowledge and hands on experience in the culinary arts and restaurant hospitality industry.

Through C A K E 's programs, youth are empowered with confidence and professional skills, to enter the workforce and become ambassadors of health and wellness to their families and communities.

Partnership for Los Angeles Reception at the Biltmore Hotel with Sergio Flores, Assistant Superintendent at Partnership LA, Principal Dr. Martin Gomez, C.A.K.E. founder Mel Nicola, and students

Partnership for Los Angeles Reception at the Biltmore Hotel with Sergio Flores, Assistant Superintendent at Partnership LA, Principal Dr. Martin Gomez, C.A.K.E. founder Mel Nicola, and students

CAKE group.png