Brandon Chrostowski is a 2020–21 Civil Society Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. A classically trained chef and sommelier, Chrostowski is on a mission to change the face of re-entry in the United States as the founder, president, and CEO of EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute. Founded in 2007, EDWINS is a nonprofit that provides formerly incarcerated individuals a pathway to success through an elite culinary education and leadership training.
Today, EDWINS has grown from its flagship French eatery, which opened in Cleveland, Ohio, in 2013, to include a 20,000 square foot campus, the Second Chance Life Skills Center; a butcher shop, bakery, and diner; and an on-site program at Grafton Correctional Institute. Chrostowski’s team has also created a curriculum for inmates at all 30 Ohio state prisons. Nearly 100 students graduate each year from EDWINS’s programs. Many of them go on to work in Cleveland’s finest restaurants, resulting in an astounding 95% employment rate and 1% recidivism rate after graduation.
EDWINS is predicated on the belief that “education wins” and every human being—regardless of their past—has the right to a fair and equal future. Students are not only equipped with basic culinary skills, but also receive assistance through job placement and coaching, literacy programs, and the provision of basic needs such as housing, medical care, clothing, and more.
After starting his career in Detroit, Chrostowski honed his skills at a series of notable fine dining establishments in Paris, New York, and Chicago, including Lucas Carton, Chanterelle, Picholine, Le Cirque and Charlie Trotter’s. Recognition for his culinary and mission-driven efforts include IFMA’s 2020 Silver Plate Award, as well as inclusion in CNN’s 2016 Heroes, and Crain’s 40 under 40. Prior to being selected as a Civil Society Fellow, Chrostowski received Manhattan Institute’s Social Entrepreneurship Award in 2015.
Chrostowski earned an associate’s degree in culinary arts and a bachelor’s degree in business and restaurant management from The Culinary Institute of America. He resides in Cleveland with his wife Catana and their children, Leo and Lilly.
Learn more about Chrostowski’s work at https://edwinsrestaurant.org.
For more information about the Civil Society Fellows Program click here.
Photo credit: McKinley Wiley