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2014 July

30 Jul


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Stone Soup Needs more than Fire! pt.1

July 30, 2014 | By | No Comments

I think the reason I love the Stone Soup story so much is the how the villagers had no idea what impact they were making on the recipe until they actually took part in sharing the amazing meal that served the whole community.  I think that Grand Rapids actually has a leg up when it comes to that village.  The village was resistant to welcoming change in the beginning, Grand Rapids is obviously the opposite.

I want to talk about some recent supporters that may or may not be aware of their impact.

During this session of Kitchen Sage, we are revitalizing the kitchen at St. Adalbert’s Parish.  That means that we have a ton of work to do to a kitchen that has not been used in 10 years!  We have to make sure that we update all licensing with the health department, make sure all the mechanicals are in order, of course we need to make sure the kitchen is secure, and is well stocked with all the tools we will need to cook up a storm! Thankfully, Msgr Stasker made sure the kitchen was already clean! Pretty awesome we were welcomed to a clean new home for Kitchen Sage, HUH?!!!

So first thing first, let’s get this amazing kitchen legal!  So the first thing the junior chefs did was set up an appointment with our sanitarian from the Kent County Health Department.  Of course I could have done this on my own, but at Kitchen Sage, every step is a chance for a lesson!  So of course we had the kids hang out with Jeff Constantine, our sanitarian.  Now the crew knows that the first step in starting any new hospitality venture is meeting with the local health department.  Needless to say, the Kitchen Sage class was pretty impressed with Jeff.  A big THANK YOU to Jeff for taking the extra time and engaging the junior chefs!


24 Jul


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Kitchen Sage Summer Roster Part 1.

July 24, 2014 | By | No Comments

I can’t believe its been 3 weeks already. This summer class of Kitchen Sagehas been unstoppable!! These kids have such an abundance of energy that they channel towards their work and show such willingness to learn new culinary skills, and of course get the luxury to accompany such cool guys like Chef Justin Stermin, Chef Tommy FitzGerald and yours truly10525859_10202942586420326_1252535091643015378_n 10518332_10202942582340224_584362762866487019_o 10487309_10202942631621456_822328734906593085_n 10562649_10202942635461552_4033361206807122219_o. I truly appreciate this program, it has worked wonders for me and has given me such a clear insight on whats out in this great world for me. My goal with Kitchen Sage is to show these students that theirs so many opportunities and resources out there. Teens now days only know what they THINK they know, but as Chef always says “You dont know what you dont know”, meaning that most teens live in a bubble, stepping out of that bubble and seeing and trying things, thats when life truly begins. I’m more then ok with being the bubble popper for these kids just to show them that they can do anything.
-Reggie Green

22 Jul


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Maybe Man can Live on Bread Alone, or at Least a Field and Fire Wisdom!

July 22, 2014 | By | No Comments

IMG_0944 IMG_0942Take time to look, take time to listen, Take time to take a BITE!

With Kitchen Sage what you will see, learn, and taste is all that we could hope for in a community.  Shelby Kibler, a transplant to Grand Rapids gets it and GIVES it.  He is THE perfect example of why I say “GO LOCAL or MOVE.  Here is a guy who brings his wife and son to Grand Rapids, not to just make a buck, but to be a part of Grand Rapids on a level beyond “BAKER”.  He gave us the opportunity to not only see how a baguette was made, but to deliver a message of sincerity. Sincere ingredients, sincere RELATIONSHIPS (with guest and staff), all make up some of the most sincerely NUTRITIOUS  and DELICIOUS expression of baked goods I have ever seen.


The time he took with the students encapsulated everything from actually baking to business ethics- everything a growing kid needs!! Sam Jansen loved the differences between baking and cooking! Chararalyn Martin loved the fact a budding chef or baker could turn a passion into a career.  Jonah Jansen loves that someone could work that many hours loving what they do!  Sylvia Andres was overwhelmed with his passion and knowledge.  Jamia Souels loved the fact they used their hands instead of a machine to knead the dough.  I have never seen Travis Latter so intrigued.  And I of course was amazed at Shelby’s physical fitness, maybe I need to be a baker!!


A Huge Thank you to Chef Shelby and the whole gang at Field and Fire!

14 Jul


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Steepletown, putting the spires in INSPIRE and ASPIRE!

July 14, 2014 | By | No Comments

This session of Kitchen Sage reflects the willingness to share resources!  Last year Steepletown sent me a couple students as a favor.  That favor resulted in Reggie Green, an OPPORTUNIST who expressed his limitations for the culinary arts, but a passion for organizing and implementing events.

As Dick Bulkowski and Emilio Zamarripa periodically checked in on Reggie, we started realizing we wanted the same thing for Grand Rapids’ youth. Like Reggie, I expressed my limitations in the Non-Profit world to the Steepletown Gang.  I really just want to grab kids(in a good way!) and teach them that:

1.  The World owes you nothing, you owe the World!

2.  If you want to learn to cook with Tommy, you do it not just for yourself, but for the neighborhood!

3.  Relationships are the only thing in life! Invest in relationships and you will be wealthy beyond compare!

I really want to teach kids leadership, communication, compassion, and culinary skills.  As a bonus, our kids get ServSafe Certified, a killer marketable skill.(ServSafe Certification is a 5 year accreditation that says that an individual knows how to handle food SAFELY! What a marketable skill to have especially in ANY hospitality industry!)

So Dick and I started doing some events together and just really hanging out from time to time (you know those Catholic Central boys!)  I really was intrigued how Steepletown got so much done!  I obviously needed to heed what could be done with proper mentorship, so I inherintly became a protege of Steepletown’s vision.

Steepletown is not just a mentor of Kitchen Sage.  We are collaborating this summer to incubate a vision of mine with the vision of Steepletown to turn a pot of stone soup into a 5 star meal!

What if my students from Kitchen Sage had to start at Steepletown where they had a month  of resources beyond culinary?  Things like Pre-Employment Training, Employee Building Skills, Goal Setting, Stress Management (need to sit in on that one next time!) and Empowerment Sessions are given to the students before they even meet me!  So Kitchen Sage is getting a mentally prepared student!

What if the students actually got paid to be in my program? What if after they were ServSafe certified I could call up a restaurant and offer them a paid intern?  Oh wait, Steepletown already made it happen! So now I can call up my friends and offer them a possible employee, if not at least a summer intern!

So here’s to a better Kitchen Sage, a better Student, and better Hospitality in Grand Rapids!

Thank you Steepletown!!

Oh and by the way, Reggie Green is now Senior Events Coordinator for our catering arm!