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 outreachBefore 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!!