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2013 October

10 Oct


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The Skinny on the FAT Chef! Part 1

October 10, 2013 | By | No Comments

Just recently, I received  a post on the Kitchen Sage Facebook.  WOW! a lessor person may be very upset at this attack on his personal character but in all honesty, there was some validity to some of the post and it really made me start to think.

    • I did financially restructured my business on morning of Jan 8, 2010.  I had partnerships in two properties that were not only failing due to a turn in the economy, but also failing because one partner thought he could leverage his legal weight to take over what the other partners and I had sincerely built.  I had two choices, borrow money from family and friends and HOPE that said partner would let me do what we set out to do, or walk away from all my equity(that I paid CASH for), move in with my little sister, and start from scratch on my own.  Super cool guy at 40 huh? Homeless, penniless, oh and fat from all the stress and bad eating habits! Sometimes in life you just have to make that really hard decision so you can really move on.  So I took advantage of some amazing financial advice to restructure, not because I had over-extended myself credit wise (it is nearly impossible to get any sort of credit as a self employed restauranteur!) but to get back to being completely in charge of my life.  This advice gave me a chance to regroup with Cafe Stella and gave me the freedom of liability to move forward on my own terms.
      Oh and by the way, that was also the same date of the first JuiceBall! So instead of mourning my failures, I decided to give hospitality to those that really need some help like Kids’ Food Basket.  Heck, I had a warm home, food on the table, and a shirt on my back so why not help out a kid with a juice box?
      A 40th Birthday for Tommy with 1200 friends and 144,000 juice boxes for Kids’ Food Basket!
      So if I am so good at business, why the non profit status? To address any nay sayers,  why on earth would I even think of non-profit?  I am sure most of the people that have read my vision for Kitchen Sage think its all about the kids, but I do have some other motives.   I always knew that my infectious passion for hospitality had to be passed on.  I also knew that I wanted to make sure that those after me could avoid the same failures with just a little mentorship(add your favorite cliche!). You see, in the real world of small business, we are the tax payers.  Before I sell a sandwich for $7, the tax man charges me $2500, just to be in business, every year.  I am totally fine with that and all the taxes I pay, as a business and personally… I take pride in the fact that I contribute my fair share.  But, when I do a party for COST for a non profit, that is still seen as revenue and thus I am taxed on that number. What could I do for the community as a non-profit? How many other non-profits could I help? Because in all reality aren’t all non-profits in it together?  Is Degage more important than Kids’ Food Basket?
      Since 1997, I have raised not only hundreds of thousands of dollars for local charities, but also awareness to some legitimate needs of the community. I also take the stance that throwing money at an issue sometimes can have a reverse affect of what is intended or hoped for. A lesson sorely learned personally.  Throwing good money after bad in my situation would have NEVER allowed me to be to have the humility to serve on such a large scale. That is why KFB and Degage hand out resources, not money. I have tried to give out Degage vouchers to my neighborhood panhandlers, they want cash for food, but not a $2 voucher for food at Degage(4 blocks away)?
      This is why I am so intent on making our students serve our community.  They have to have their skin in the game.  I am more than happy to mentor them but the also have to be accountable for their actions, and responsible for their community. Kitchen Sage is not a hand out or a help up. Its just me taking some kids and volunteers and the idea that we can all learn to prepare and share sincere, local, and delicious food for a healthier community.
      So lesson number one of Kitchen Sage:
      Only through serving others can you truly build relationships.  There is nothing more important than the relationships that you have with God(your own!), your family, and your community.  This is the core of Kitchen Sage, we just happen to cook some killer food too.
      Our Mission Statement:
      Kitchen Sage teaches our children the basics of cooking and food preparation while mentoring them to make healthier food choices for themselves, their families and their community through culinary outreach
      Before I get to part 2, please be aware that Kitchen Sage is not for”High Risk”, “Disadvantaged”, “Troubled Teens”, let alone moochers!  But they are cute!
      The Kitchen Sage students are opportunists that are thriving in a culture of community service,  internal leadership, and change all the while passing on what they learn to EVERYONE that wants a little Kitchen Sage.
      Does Caitlin Bilkovsky look like a troubled teen? because she’s 12!! I’m troubled that I only got this pic and not the dinner she made WITH her family!! Watch out Giada!! I think the raviolis had not only a moral center, but 4 cheeses!!

10 Oct


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The Skinny on the FAT Chef! Part 2

October 10, 2013 | By | No Comments

When you realize that you are a public figure, it can be a double-edged sword. Most of the time you are loved for your charming personality! Sometimes there are others with mean words that are spoken/written and those are the words that can cut deeper than any blade.  I have always opted to wear my heart on my sleeve, thinking that people would take my intentions along with my actions without negativity, resentment, or speculation.

WOW! I was wrong! But as always, there is a lesson in the problem, and there are always 3 solutions to every problem.

When my students and I discussed bullying over a stir fry, my heart ached not only for the my students, but for the aggressors.  We all know that the bullies are usually acting out on their own issues, and you want to be empathetic to their situation. But now the game has changed because in all reality that mean, bitter, and hateful noise not only infiltrates the classroom, school yard, and halls, it now also consumes social media. And it doesn’t end when you finish school! I really don’t think that the bully understands how their words and actions can severely affect others.

The Anonymous Tangent:

Years ago I realized that we behave differently when driving a car or a grocery cart!  When I am at Meijer and someone darts in front of me blocking the aisle to pick out their favorite brand of peanut butter, I don’t scream, yell, or even flip them the bird.  I actually say hello and tell them to take their time.  But if am driving my car on 131 and someone is doing 40 in the left lane(which is the passing lane!!), I would freak out! The difference: there is a sense of anonymity when I am in my car! So with today’s social media, the rules of bullying are out the door.  ANYONE can release their opinion, their ignorance, and their hate towards anyone anonymously!  When we were kids, we could at least contain the bullying, fight back, or wait till summer.  What guidance can we offer to make these victims see that the bully does not define them? What if the person being bullied a public figure? And what if the bully is right?

Some of the reasons I am fat(not justifications!)

The person that said I have a weight issue is absolutely right! Tommy is fat, fatter than he has ever been. But why? I have not eaten fast food since 1989, I seldom eat processed food, and I have more access to healthy menus than ANYONE! I used to be super FIT, so what gives?

Well, My day starts at 4:30…EVERYDAY. Somedays I am done by 3, somedays I am done by midnight. I cook all day, so eating really sounds awesome late at night, strike one!

I LOVE to eat! Maybe that’s why I am a chef…DUH!  So when I do eat, you know it is awesome! And what’s better than one bite of killer grub?….20 bites of killer grub! For me one bite is too much, 20 are not enough, strike 2!

If I don’t work out in the morning, I don’t work out at all! And who am I kidding, I probably haven’t worked out in 6 months. Why? I love the gym!  But I love this new program of Kitchen Sage much more than my own health, which is stupid, strike 3.

Of course with the stress of running my own company and financing a new Culinary Leadership Academy, I am tapped financially.  I have not only laid down most of the cash for this vision, but I have also borrowed from my retirement funds, let alone the countless hours I have spent designing and implementing the program…..stupid huh? Not in a million years!  The first class of Kitchen Sage has already given me the return on investment I needed with their hard work, sense of urgency, and service to our community. Oh and if you haven’t got the point, I also chow down when I am stressed!!

The solution to my weight issues

So I need to get back into the game..NOW!  That is why I decided to join a friend, Shani Hendricks and her gang from Lambert, Edwards and Associates are on a fitness challenge. Shani didn’t call me fat, especially on my own Facebook page, she just invited me to be a part of their solution. They proved their friendship years ago and I know that with them helping me to be more accountable, I could lose some seriously unhealthy weight. What a novel idea, inviting someone to make better choices INSTEAD of hurting them via social media!

So here is the plan!  I have 4 months till JuiceBall which is Jan 11. (get your costumes now!) I need to lose at least 50lbs before then, I will not wait for the New Year on this.

Next Tuesday I start a 6 week transformation with Fitness and Sports Performance, go to their website: Fitness and Sports Performance. Tiffany is going to kick my butt into shape!  She has even given the other teams some financial incentives and has pledged a dollar for each pound lost to Kitchen Sage!!  OMG!  That would help a little with “other stress” too! So I will be eating right, SLEEPING, and working out! That seems like a great plan but I still need support.

what’s that, how can you help?

I am soo glad you asked!

1. Pledge a buck a pound on the the Kitchen Sage Facebook page or website , then each month, you can just donate on the website, a buck for each pound.  Therefore I am earning the resources for my vision, paying it forward with my health!

2. You could get a team for yourself going, and Tiffany will donate a buck for each pound you lose!!

3. Get your company to match funds! And since we are an official 501c3, my fat is is tax deductible!(and we just might put you on all our media!)

All these components added up could make a world of difference.  I could show my kids that I too need to be healthier and to take action. I could get the kids on the bandwagon of making healthier recipes to share. And this could show everyone that there are many ways to deal with bullying, but the bottom line is to not rant and rave, change what you need to change for your OWN self and let the other person figure out their own issues.  And when someone puts stupid remarks or judgements on your Facebook, you can chose to leave it up,  delete it, and a great way to respond to them is off line. Some lessons huh?!

To express my appreciation for all the support, I will not only keep everyone up to date each week via my blog, but the kids and I are going to pass on VERSATILE healthy recipes for you to make!  Don’t worry, not only will the recipes be simple and cheap, we will also post a video so you see how easy they are!!

I think this could be a pretty cool solution!

Thank you Shani!!! and Thank you to all the supporters in advance!

So who’s in?!!