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2016 September

28 Sep


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No, I did not Bribe my Student!

September 28, 2016 | By | No Comments

I know that some may say that I must have BRIBED our latest and greatest student, but I really just threatened her! In all reality, there is only so much we can afford our students in such a short time. That is when we really rely on our partners to help us take the student to the next level. Well Star Bond is on that next level!

Watch the video, NUFF SAID!

14 Sep


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Just in the MICK of Time!

September 14, 2016 | By | No Comments

star-mick-interview-mashup-2I am sure everyone knows how sappy I can get, but this time its not too bad! But it is really amazing that a company that gave me opportunities to put myself through school, that this many years later I still feel a part of the team.

Whenever the Gilmore Group asks, I am happy to help out with things like judging or being apart of one of their countless events. It takes me waaaay back to the time to when I worked at the Thornapple Inn. I was a server, dish dog, or anything they needed because they were so willing to take the time to train me on new roles. The money was great, the knowledge was POWER!

So just as I am trying to place my recent graduate, I gave Chef Mick Rickerd a call. Chef Mick runs the catering for Gilmore..yummy! Mick and I go back to some funny events when an honest word would prove paramount. I have always respected him for that. So when I had a Star, (literally that’s her name!) graduate from Kitchen Sage I had to be strategic with her placement for the externship. Star has so many core things that will make her a great chef, a diamond in the rough. I wanted to put her with a chef that would hold her accountable and help her hone her skills. I knew Mick was the man!

The man for what? I need partners that are willing to take the risk and really hold my graduates accountable. The real chefs of the world mentor hard! When I was a budding chef there were often private talks in the walk in cooler, threats of violence!, or worse yet calling me out if I was being lazy. That is how you make a chef! And today there is the cellphone that chefs have to deal with on top of all the BS. I am so lucky I didn’t have to worry about cell phones at Cafe Stella! Mick, how do you do it?!!

So Mick, Chef/Brotha! THANK YOU! Without partners like you, Kitchen Sage would be just Home Economics, not WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT!

12 Sep


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Not Gonna Be A Chef?

September 12, 2016 | By | No Comments


Look at this young man! Jonah Jansen and his brother Samuel were in the first Kitchen Sage class, NOT gonna be chefs!

Both brothers were outstanding young men. I really can not take credit for their aptitude, work ethic, or just there coolness. They both took every opportunity I gave them with an incredible sincerity. To tell you the truth, they actually took an opportunity that gave them a true baptism by fire. With Kitchen Sage, Jonah and Samuel helped take over the food program at Indian Trails Camp in the summer of 2015. What a baptism of fire! Can you imagine having to feed 120 differently-abled campers a hearty, nutritional breakfast, lunch, and dinner 7 days a week? Well we pulled it off!

Fast forward today and these young men are following their own passions for life and career. Samuel is at Hope College studying political science and Jonah is at CC.

The great thing about this picture is Jonah greeted Emily and I as we checked in in at Spectrum Health two weeks ago. We were in anticipation to deliver our first child! I could not believe how Jonah has brokered our relationships to get a “job” at Spectrum health. Right now he is delivering meals to help pay for college.

In reality he is on the fast track to becoming a NURSE, not a chef and I could not be happier. Spectrum has an amazing reimbursement program so Jonah will pay as he goes, taking college debt of his shoulders. He has shadowed in the ER, watched a brain surgery, even shadowed with AeroMed!

Kitchen Sage is opportunity, for those that eat it up!

09 Sep


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Chop, Dice, and HARMONY!!

September 9, 2016 | By | No Comments


You can have the best intentions like I should visit my Mom more, or I really need to volunteer at church. BIG Stinking DEAL if you don’t act on them!

I have driven by Harmony Hall no less then a 1000 times thinking “Dang, I gots to meet Chef Gabe Araujo”! Not only do my wife and I crave his braunschweiger dip, we actually had our first date at the Harmony in Eastown!

But I digest!

We were fortunate enough to have one of Harmony’s employees sign up for the Kitchen Sage Spring Session. Tyler Chaffee started with Chef Gabe as a dish dawg. Tyler then came to us to further his career because he lived in our neighborhood and wanted a faster track. He loved his job, he just wanted to take the initiative to climb that ladder. And man has this young man climbed! Chef Gabe has really taken our kitchensager under his wing after Tyler proved his intent with work ethic and follow through. Tyler is now a prep cook and training to work the line. When I asked Tyler how he liked the extra dough, he rebutted something that made me so proud of our neighborhood:

“Chef, I like the money, but Chef Gabe and I prep together every Tuesday. Its just he and I and we work it. I am going to be working the line soon”

So can we intend to do something, but until we follow through, we are just talking through our @$#! So I finally stopped my car, climbed the stairs and met Chef. Amazing how much all of us have the same intent on giving our young adults opportunity, Chef Gabe lives it.

Again, Chef Gabe, THANK YOU! Tyler, Get to Work!!

In the Trenches with Mentor!
In the Trenches

08 Sep


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Grad Party, Rehearsal Dinner, Partner!

September 8, 2016 | By | No Comments


If you ask any Kitchen Sage Alumni what the most important thing is, they should respond with “RELATIONSHIPS”. If there is anything I hold most dear is the relationships I have with all of you.

You know what is cool about this pic?

The guy on the right is our latest graduate from Kitchen Sage. Victor received a 93% on his ServSafe test and has been a model student. Plus he is just a cool young man!

The guy on the left and I met when he was Victor’s age. Jake and I met while I was catering his HS graduation party, thus cementing my relationship with his family. Over the years I have been honored to feed the O’Rourke family countless times with nothing but hospitality. Then the graduate becomes a man and I am again honored to do his rehearsal dinner.

Fast forward a couple years and here Jake is a partner of the community, helping young adults find opportunities in the field I love so much, hospitality.

Not to sound patronizing, but seriously proud to know these young men. Work force development from the neighborhood(mic drop) BOOM! Thank you Jake and the SCORE!

06 Sep


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I know, I missed you too!

September 6, 2016 | By | No Comments

Working Like a Blue DOG!
Working Like A Blue DOG!!
Did you like my “hi!”? Well it has been so long since I blogged that Word Press needed some revamping. Thanks Kujenga for letting me use a “hi” to make sure we were back “on the line”!

You know it seems like the last time we talked, David Hood climbed a mountain to support us! I want to assure you that I have been working very diligently to make Kitchen Sage a safe place were young adults can break ground on a career in the culinary field.

You know that’s what we are trying to do here is to give our neighborhood youth an opportunity for work force development. We called it babysitting, mowing the lawn, painting the neighbor’s house, and a series of odd jobs we did in our youth to make extra money. That was the gift our neighbors gave us, opportunity. And boy was there a cost in that opportunity. Our neighbors knew that they would have a babysitter fall asleep, a not-so-perfect cut, spilled paint, and a leather tape measure dropped in the Thornapple River. Those were just a micro, nano list of the tolerance that was given to me as a young man.

I hear parents say they would never make their kid do these tasks because they hated them so much. What lessons are being handed down now if we only hire professionals to do these tasks? I think that when we lighten the load sometimes, that makes the muscles not as strong. And really, don’t we want are young adults curious about their future, willing to learn from their mistakes, and STRONG?

So many apologies and appreciation to Peg Inman and the rest of my neighbors! You knew the cost of work-force development before it became cool!