Documentary featuring EDWINS Restaurant in Cleveland nominated for an Oscar

Chefs busy in the kitchen at EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant. (Source: WOIO)
Chefs busy in the kitchen at EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant. (Source: WOIO)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - A documentary featuring EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant in Cleveland has been nominated for an Oscar.

Knife Skills directed by Thomas Lennon is in the Documentary (Short Subject) category.

The trailer for the documentary shows EDWINS is trying to be the no. 1 Classic French Restaurant in the area.

This restaurant is about more than food. It's about second chances for former inmates.

The documentary was shot over the last several years, and follows the evolution of the restaurant and the people who put their passion into making it succeed.

Founder Brandon Chrostowski hopes this Oscar buzz shines a light on how programs like his can make a difference.

He believes everyone deserves a second chance.

"The idea was had from a break that I had," he said "When I was younger I was arrested, thrown in jail at 18, facing five to ten years in prison."

Chrostowski met a chef while he was out on probation who changed his life.

But it wasn't enough for him to turn just his life around. He wanted to help others.

"There were challenges from society saying 'this isn't possible, how can you teach someone out of prison how to work with Bordeaux wine or how to make coq au vin,'" he said.

Knife Skills shows how Chrostowski proved the naysayers wrong.

The struggles and the triumphs of his restaurant are all caught on camera.

"The truth in reentry isn't always perfect. And it's these good, bad and ugly situations that people understand because it's life," he said.

From the cooks to the waiters to the hosts, many of the students at his restaurant never imagined they'd go from serving prison time to serving traditional French cuisine.

We found Jeremy Mathews cooking in the kitchen.

He wants to open his own food truck one day.

"There are a lot of things that have happened in my life. But when I look in Brandon's eyes, I look in some of the staff's eyes, you can see the actual care," Mathews said.

The Oscar buzz hasn't gone to anyone's head.

Tuesday night, it was hard work as usual at Edwins.

But there's hope his message will resonate a lot more now on one of the biggest stages you can get—the Academy Awards.

"Inside of somebody, they still want to be the best, they still have a dream. They still have an aspiration, and what we do is help fulfill that," Chrostowski said.

Edwins runs a six month program that rotates former inmates through different roles in the restaurant.

Around 100 students go through this program every year and then they are able to find jobs at some of Cleveland's best restaurants.

The restaurant is located at 13101 Shaker Square in Cleveland.

If you are interested in going to EDWINS, here is the full menu.

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