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2013 April

28 Apr

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Forget FWB, I needed FWV(friends with vision)

April 28, 2013 | By | No Comments

It seems to me that when I am in a “Tommy Funk” someone with a completely different viewpoint comes in to inevitably offer some clarity. Always on the go, and the parking lot still burning in my mind, I pull up to a gig. This gig happens to be a chef donation redemption for Rotary, welcoming me into his home, Ed Bujdos.  Ed I hit it off right away. He’s that guy you immediately want to have a beer with because of this goofy sincerity about him! (I know, Pot, Kettle, BLACK!) While I am in his kitchen way before guest arrival we talk in depth about my concern for the future of Grand Rapids and how our teens have no access to some basic kitchen skills or Kitchen Sage.

What a gig!  After cementing some new friendships, Ed assures me that he would be more than happy to play a mentorship role on this vision of mine. So what does he do next?  Ed sets up a time to meet with Stacie Behler (PR with MY Meijer!), just to pick her brain.  Originally I wanted to have my FWM(friends with money$) buy out the neglected store in my hood.  Here I would build a market that would host kids after school where they could learn kitchen skills by prepping all sort of fresh stuff for the market.  In turn the program would be sustained through deliciousness! We need a real market!! This could be an answer to both issues. Ed even came up with the name..GR eats Market(Greats Market!), pretty cool huh?

You know the saying “behind every great man, there’s a great woman”, well Stacie owned that statement for two meaningful guys that afternoon! Her advice hit with such depth and clarity that not only left Ed and I dumbfounded, but inspired me to drive this vision further AND along another path.  Stick with what I know, kitchen, people, marketing.  There was no need for a store front for Kitchen Sage, sustainability could rely on my relationships. And the last thing I needed was more retail!

Then the two arrange for me to speak in front of Rotary, what a complete honor!  I even promised Stacie no “F” bombs!  I was ready to share my vision in front of THE visionaries. I was “confident nervous”  and then George Aquino introduces me.  I will NEVER forget Aquino’s words. Having George Aquino introduce me in front of Rotary was like having Michael Buble open for your niece’s 4th grade musical! Before my 40th birthday, I was the funny chef donating to every cause. Now with Stacie, Ed, and George in my corner I was on my way to being the philanthropist I was meant to be.

After my speech, I felt like I was a bride in a reception line!  All of Rotary engaged me for over an hour. (not one Rotarian discussed my chef coat though!) Then I happen to meet Ed DeVries.  Ed tells me that he has some property he is working on in my neighborhood with Boys and Girls Club!  Now here’s an opportunity!  I think Rick Huisman is going to be the new executive director, got to call him now……….IMG_0069

25 Apr

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Out of the Parking Lot and into the FIRE!

April 25, 2013 | By | No Comments

The only thing suppressing my appetite at this time is the anger in my gut!  All the questions going through my head: Why don’t they teach Home Economics anymore? Why can’t a kid access even an apple in my ‘hood? How could anyone NOT see the price of convenience and its toll on our nation? Where could I send these teens for mentorship? Who even mentors teens in the culinary arts?  Why can’t I have a Meijer downtown GR? (OH to DREAM!) Did I bring home my cherry salsa?!!!

It all made sense though. Why should a struggling market sell perishables, especially if their customers don’t know what to do with them? No one seems to support GRPS, so why throw money to revitalize an old program that can’t be quantified on the MEAP? (even though they are all our kids, oh and as far as the MEAP …. insert your own profanity!). I know my chef friends would totally sign up to ANY program mentoring our culinary future if only we had one. Finally I am sure Meijer has done their own diligence and research to see if a store downtown would thrive (Still Dreaming).

Still angry, I realized that maybe I should point the finger at myself. Then I looked on my wall and saw a pic of the first JuiceBall. I looked at all the momentum of what a silly birthday party could do. We have done well with JuiceBall, awareness of Kid’s Food Basket and their mission, JuiceBoxes galore, and amazing community involvement. What about the possibility of a springboard program off JuiceBall? Almost candidly I asked myself:

What would Mary K. Hoodhood do?

Then I smiled, made my nachos, and made a list of people to call.

Don’t worry, I had more than enough cherry salsa for my nachos!!

salsa 2-5449

24 Apr

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So back to why my message is clearer!

April 24, 2013 | By | No Comments

You know, when you are so passionate about a vision, sometimes you have trouble conveying an intent. I think I said it all yesterday on the Dave Jaconette Show yesterday.  I usually get over to the show every Tuesday at 10. Dave and I get to catch up and we have some great banter before I get on the air to share with the audience all the positive things going on. If you notice when we are on the air, Dave has a great way of clarifying, almost interpreting my passion for Kitchen Sage! it is part of his mentorship and I am crazy grateful! Thanks to Jere Sorger for giving us this format!

just click below!

Kitchen Sage 0423

 

24 Apr

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Now Back to the Parking Lot!

April 24, 2013 | By | No Comments

So after I assured the teens that I was NOT the chef they see on TV by sharing with them my 14 hour day with little pay, I began to see something in their eyes you would not expect from any teen…engagement!  These kids were cool, respectful, and down right funny! They had expressed the reasons why my neighborhood would not employ them but still could not wait for an opportunity to be a chef.  I gave them some sincere optimism with existing avenues that they should check out, knowing full well that the resources for this are scarce.

Time for some El Matador chips!  As a went to purchase the base of my nachos, here is one of the guys from outside in front of me buying junk and more junk to wash it down.  I know, you know that this was probably his dinner. Anger level, luke warm!

Time for an intervention!!  I very bluntly informed him that being a chef starts with his belly!  Because when you put kick butt awesome grub in yer belly, you want to share your passion with your family, your friends and one day in your own restaurant! After asking if he had access to an oven or microwave, I sent him to grab a bag of chips because he was going to make nachos for his homies!  So I grab the block cheese, the french onion dip, the can of beans, and the jar of salsa(God forbid real ingredients in the neighborhood!).  The kid comes back with a national brand bag of tortilla chips that look like they have been on a truck from Texas! Anger level, definitely HOT!

Time to pass on my mantra,”GO local or MOVE!” I explain why he should purchase the chips made by his neighbors, even though they SEEM more expensive, I showed him a breakdown of value.  Now I am REALLY MAD!(you know I want to use worst words, but gonna keep it clean!) I check out, say good night, go home and stew over my nachos!…..

23 Apr

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Now a bit of today!

April 23, 2013 | By | No Comments

So I hope you guys are getting the Blog! While you were getting the first updates from Tommy, I did a couple other things. These awesome blogs that now operate are because my Designed for Good team! Not only did they put up the site(in 60 hours!), but they are now mentoring Tommy Boy! Craig Cockerill, a guy that reminds me if Jack Black and Russell Crowe(from A Beautiful Mind) were to give birth to an articulate son. That would be Craig! He wasn’t even on my team, but he felt compelled to self appoint himself Kitchen Sage’s webmaster! So this guy is making me OWN Word Press! I can’t wait to introduce you to all that are making this project a GO!

Today I also ran my business and catered a lunch for Civic Theatre because they are wicked cool.  Then I did waaaaay too much admin work for a chef!  Craig came over to my house this evening to pimp out something else on the website that I will have to learn later! (he talks funny! weird words that don’t have vowels! what’s up with that?) but then the website is soooo freeky cool! I will happen to ask him if we can do something on the site, then all of the sudden he’s talking to Matt Fouty, Tom Englesman, or Tyler Wayner about God know’s what? Next thing you know we have a new feature on the website!? Thank you gentlemen, crazy skills.

Then Mr. Brian Gerrity stops by. You really don’t want to look at him wrong, he might cut ya. He could do it quick too, one the fastest chefs I have ever known! (Mr. Fire and Knife!) So he wants to write up some tunes for KS, so we had a funny chat about that!  Can’t wait to hear the tunes.  He is a renaissance man born just a few years too late! I miss working with him, now we have a great excuse to work together again. Check out B. and his daughter, Briana!

Guess which one’s Brian?! I’m optimistic!

Now its Almost 11pm..Good Night GR!

22 Apr

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Forget the Big Bang, We will start with the Big Idea…

April 22, 2013 | By | No Comments

The Story of Kitchen Sage

Until one fall evening I was feeling pretty good about my contributions to my city and the surrounding areas of Grand Rapids.  With three annual birthday parties under my belt, the “JuiceBall”, I had gained great acceptance as a third-party fundraiser for my favorite charity- Kids’ Food Basket.  With my friends, we not only threw one of the most fun charitable events of the New Year — but we were able to provide KFB with countless juice boxes for their sack suppers. The funny thing was that the first JuiceBall was really meant to be a “Friend Raiser” to help put KFB on the map. This was my first taste of how great my city could be.

So back to the night that I realized that sometimes your best is not good enough.  I happen to live downtown Grand Rapids, Heritage Hill to be exact.  What a great and diverse neighborhood to call home, but it really lacks a decent grocery store.  The store in my neighborhood is not friendly for a farm-to-table chef, but it does have some great local tortilla chips which is perfect for the chef that has homemade salsa at his command…NACHOS! Pulling up I saw some of my neighbors hanging out.  Some may find five city teens hanging out in a parking lot suspect and what happened next was a pleasant surprise.  Sporting my chef coat, these kids chose to engage me like I was Jamie Oliver himself………..

22 Apr

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A New Recipe for Grand Rapids!

April 22, 2013 | By | No Comments

Please stay tuned for Chef Tommy FitzGerald’s HISTORY OF KITCHEN SAGE! The mission: to provide access to nutrition and culinary awareness to teens in Grand Rapids Michigan!

12 Apr

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Tommy Makes Steak Tartare

April 12, 2013 | By | No Comments

Watch Tommy show the WJWR radio audience how to prepare steak tartare!