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Nation's first Cantonese and Mandarin BASSET classes held in Chinatown

DATE: April 23, 2012
CONTACT: Ted Penesis (ted.penesis@illinois.gov)

CHICAGO—A new public safety initiative was launched today in Chicago’s Chinatown, thanks to a unique coalition of partners at the local, state, and national levels. For the first time in the United States, alcohol training was taught in the Asian languages of Cantonese and Mandarin. During the training, students from the hospitality industry learned how to spot signs of over-consumption and detect fraudulent identification.

“We want our businesses to operate profitably and legally, and alcohol training is a key component in achieving these goals,” says Illinois Liquor Control Commission (ILCC) Executive Director Gloria L. Materre. The ILCC regulates alcohol training in Illinois through its Beverage Alcohol Seller/Server Education & Training (BASSET) program.

The first step in making foreign language BASSET instruction a reality was the willingness of the Asian Health Coalition, a Chicago-based non-profit healthcare agency, to fund the translation of the National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe curriculum.

Once complete, the restaurant association’s staff trained bilingual community members to be instructors. “Our top priority was to recruit local trainers from the Chinatown community,” says Edwin Chandrasekar, Executive Director of the Asian Health Coalition. “We were thrilled when the Chicago Police Department’s beat officer in Chinatown was among the first to answer the call. This will allow the training to be more personal and responsive to the community’s needs.”

Finally, with the continued support and assistance from two other key partners – the Chicago Chinatown Chamber of Commerce and Chinese American Service League – throughout the entire process, class times were set.

“Due to this partnership, we have an opportunity to train those who may not have a solid grasp of the language, but want to do the right thing,” adds Materre. “We are a nation of immigrants, and the hospitality industry is one that opens its arms to all those who want to live the American dream.”

“But that dream can turn into a nightmare if alcohol is not sold and served properly. That is why we are here today.”

To learn more about alcohol training in Illinois, please visit the the BASSET Program​ website.

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