Grilling Life Skills Program for At-Risk Youths

Grilling Life Skills Program at Hayward Adult School, California


This blog is my personal call to YOU for action!  I’m looking for volunteers to help launch our Grilling Life Skills Program for at-risk youths.  What’s this about you may ask?  In August 2018, we launched a pilot program in partnership with the Hayward Adult School.

5 kinds of sausages


The goal of the Grilling Life Skills Program is to provide grilling life skills training to at-risk youth in local communities.  Volunteer pitmasters teach basic grilling skills to youth in a half-day day class.  In the pilot, five pitmasters taught about 15 at-risk youths in the Hayward Youth Enrichment Service (YES) program how to develop grilling life skills.  These youths were from foster-care and juvenile-hall and needed support to help to get their lives back on track.

To learn more, you can download the Program Guide and watch the 9-minute YouTube Video to learn more.

Hands on Grilling


By way of background, I met Ms. Davida Scott, a teacher of the YES program at a charity barbecue contest benefitting  She brought a few of her students to the event and Donna of Butchers Daughter BBQ and I taught them some grilling pointers at that contest.  After getting to know Ms. Davida and her kids, we were touched by their stories of dire family life challenges such as incarceration, poverty, and drugs.  These kids were bright sparks of hope who desperately wanted to change their lives positively.

Bacon Weave Fatty


After some brain storming, we hatched an idea to partner with Ms. Davida and Dr. Zak, the YES Director, to start a pilot session on August 4, 2018.  To aid in our efforts, we rounded up some loaner Weber Kettles and recruited three local pitmasters Kyle (Choo-Choo), Scott (Scooter), Dustin (Big Sloppy) to help.

Instructor led training


The learning objectives were to teach simple and repeatable grilling life skills to at-risk youth using locally sourced ingredients that fit youth’s income level.  After this class, we wanted the kids to

  1. Understand the difference between grilling and barbecue
  2. Recognize key guidelines for food safety and prevention of food borne problems
  3. Develop knowledge and hands-on experience with meats, flavors, fire, and smoke including how to shop for proteins in a cost-effective way
  4. Summarize Donna and Harry’s philosophy of grilling and smoking
  5. Recall some basic grilling tips when handed tongs and how to prepare a memorable budget meal
  6. Have fun and a great experience so the kids could ambassadors of barbecue love and spread kindness in the world, and
  7. Potentially take what they learned to their home and perhaps make an inroad into a culinary career

Bacon Weave Fatty


If you’re a teacher reading this, we hope that other teachers and social workers could partner with volunteer pitmasters to replicate this program in any city.   If you are a pitmaster reading this, we hope you could download the Grilling Life Skills Program Guide which contains 15 chapters of information and attachments to help you get started.

Grilled ribs


If you need help, please contact us as we are happy to answer questions or provide more information.  In Part 2 of this story, Donna and I, with some volunteer pitmasters, will be sponsoring and helping two at-risk youth teams in November 2018 at a charity backyard BBQ event in NorCal (see Harry’s social media for more information in the days leading up to that even).  We hope to be able to launch a train-the-trainer program to teach you and other pitmasters how to conduct such a program.  If you’re interested in helping or participating, please contact us.


For more information and assistance to start your program, please download the Program Kit and contact:

Harry Soo,; 909-973-0334

Donna Fong,; 510-310-7447

Ms. Davida Scott, Teacher, Alternative Education, Hayward Unified School District;; 510-244-8527

Dr. Guy “Zak” Zakrevsky, Director, Alternative Education, Hayward Unified School District;; 510-293-8595

BBQ Lunch