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Tommy

15 May

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Are you ready for Summer School? We are because of Keller Williams!

May 15, 2017 | By | No Comments

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My dear friend Michael Kooistra gave us such an amazing gift last week and it was an ARMY of KELLER WILLIAMS soldiers! They spent the entire day with us landscaping, cleaning, and painting. They even got Koetsiers to match their dollars for all the beautiful plants. I always get overwhelmed by these days when it seems like everything we do gets validated by companies like Keller Williams when they are doing things like this:

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Want to hear the best part? As we were packing up for the day, two of our very important neighbors were walking down the side walk and the boy says to his sister, “when did they get the pretty flowers?” You all know I’m a cryer right? Well the tears flowed all the way home! I am sure all these beautiful people from KELLER WILLIAMS slept well that night knowing they did good, but they could never feel the way we do at Steepletown when teams like KELLER WILLIAMS put wind in our sails. And that is what happens when like minded people build their team with Steepletown and Kitchen Sage!

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Stay tuned for a new class that will build your team up by building up the neighborhood even more!

30 Mar

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A Whole New “Bucket List” for Grand Rapids

March 30, 2017 | By | No Comments

And last night at the “Taste The Westside” event I saw the light. I know we all have been to fund raisers for this cause or that, but last night was different for me. I am stealing a phase from my dear friend David Hood that I overheard that was just so precise. David said quite frankly that, “We are all in the same bucket”. This just hit home to me on so many levels.

As a chef, I am so quick to “metaphor” my food designs so forgive me if am I consistent with using David’s words for my presentation!

David works for EPS, right here on the West Side, family business, NO really a family business. OUR EPS family stops by once a month just to have breakfast with Kitchen Sage and Steepletown. We are instructed that all our staff are more than welcome, in fact made to feel a little guilty if we have to miss it. There is no agenda, no quarterly reports, not even a whisper of work. Just a couple of families getting together for breakfast.

So back to the bucket. If one of us poops in the bucket, we all swim in it, right?! So how is that different from ignoring a neighbor that may just need something?

If there is one thing that makes me just so in love with our Steepletown is that 9 times out of 10 we are affording our neighbor time. Time to teach a preschooler the ABC’s(and to share). Time to share with one of our seniors who needs their lawn mowed, while offering work force development for one of our youth. Time to let a Kitchen Sage student take their new found culinary skills and share it with the city. And the list goes on.

I do think it is funny about the “Bucket” model because I can’t help but view a bucket as a vessel to quench a fire, clean up a mess, or fill up with some ice cold root beers for a day at the beach.

To all our neighbors, not just from last night, but all of YOU. Thank you so much for not pooping in our bucket! And for the neighbors bringing the pool toys to the party, THANK YOU SO MUCH!

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27 Mar

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What would your MAMA say?!

March 27, 2017 | By | No Comments

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I will never forget the first JuiceBall and the look of complete and utter surprise my Mom had on her face. If there is one constant in life, all of us have mothers. Mothers don’t always have to be biological. To me, the word Mom is earned through trust and love. And at the same time, it is our duty as children to earn their respect and make them proud. So what would your MAMA say?

I would like to think that my Mom would say, “Well son, what’s next? sure that was nice, but you know that if you….”

Now this is not an indictment on my Mom, it is an HOMAGE. Because my Mom was always trying to make the holidays a little better, the day a little more outrageous, and she was always someone we could trust. And as I go on with my life I will always have her voice in my head pushing me forward, making someone else’s life a little better.

With Kitchen Sage I guess what we are trying to do is to earn the trust of our students. We need them to trust that we are giving them opportunities that are best for them. Just like Mom.

22 Mar

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Welcome to the HOOD! I have a Question?

March 22, 2017 | By | No Comments

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YES! I got ya with another adorable pic!

But the truth, the real fact is of the matter is we are all part of the GR neighborhood. If we are not asking the right questions, how will we be able to build each other up?

This morning while our students were helping Chef Justin and I prep the preschool meals, I was overwhelmed with the fact that sometimes we just need to ask simple questions to get where we want to go. Literally that was the topic. Our students were expressing their exhaustion of relying on the bus. First of all, thank God for public transportation, and its not just for poor people! But secondly the public transit gives the opportunity for everyone to get moving with their lives.

So Justin starts asking questions:
Well how are you going to get away from having to use the bus?
You need a driver’s license right?
Well how do you get that?
Can you take a bus to the Secretary of State?
Can they give you a book to study? Or other resources?
Well can you study on the bus?
Can you take a bus to take the test?
How are you going to buy a car?
Can you save a ton of money taking the bus?
How long will you have to take the bus before you can save enough for plates, insurance, and a down payment.
So what are you going to do and when?
Is there something I can do to help?

Questions offer hope, lets keep asking questions.

Ainsley, when are you going to question what GR needs? What are you going to do about it. I’ll give you some time!

20 Mar

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Why would ANYONE get up this EARLY?!!

March 20, 2017 | By | No Comments

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Now that I got ya with this adorable pic, look at Ainsley’s eyes. Every morning I get those eyes smiling at me with nothing but laughter. Of course I set the tone with the words“What’s going on in here? and why wasn’t I invited?”!

The morning to me is living the hope of a new day. No distractions, just prep time to make the new day amazing. I try to put away all the trial, tribulation, and pettiness from the day before. Because I am sure we all get exhausted by the end of the day, all of us.

I think that is what is so great about the new day, we can try harder to make it better than the one before. Not to mention I get to let my best girl Emily sleep in, because she works so hard putting Ainsley down. Ainsley fights sleep like her daddy fights his weight! And I have to be grateful for Emily’s patience and love every morning.

Then I get to meet up with Chefs Justin and Karen at 6am. The best part about coming into “work” is that I know that they see ALL our children’s eyes in Ainsley’s baby blues. And that is what makes all the difference, knowing my team cares so much for our city.

Good Morning Grand Rapids!

I hope you make it a great day!

07 Feb

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I feel Safe and so Should YOU!

February 7, 2017 | By | No Comments

Kitchen Sage’s recent graduates are in the workforce right now as externs!

The incomparable Nikki Hill is at Spectrum Health, working every part of their dining program. Chef Steve is giving Nikki the foundation to work for a large employer that values every teammate! From guest dining to preparation, she is working hard to get a full time job after her externship.
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The man with dancing feet Mikus McCoy is now at Ju Sushi and Lounge. This was a perfect fit for Mikus because is has the heart of an artist and chef Josh can hone that artist with some amazing SUSHI! Plus the Ju team really believes in the mentoring of great chefs.
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And finally, we have JaQuan Guy, and what a guy he is! This man with the soul of a lion is externing with Connie’s Cakes. We could not ask for a better mentor that Mary Scheidel. This lady is teaching Quan life lessens and how to decorate the most amazing cakes on the planet.
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To ALL our Hospitality Partners, THANK YOU, you too are Kitchen Sage! Here’s a better pic of us all!
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18 Jan

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A New Year’s REVOLUTION!

January 18, 2017 | By | No Comments

I know this is the time of the year when we all try to better ourselves. It really is such a great time to stop and reflect. On that note Chef Tommy has a whole list! At the top of the list is asking for help. I have been so hell-bent on making Kitchen Sage sustainable, that I have let my pride distract me. Kitchen Sage is not at the point where we are completely sustainable. We are close and with your help we can get where we need to be. So here I am asking for your HELP! If everyone within the sound of my voice could just hit this link and donate at least 10 bucks, we can expand our reach for the preschool meal program, our Crock and Roll program teaching the preschool parents basic Home Economics, and opportunities for the students and alumni of the Culinary Leadership Academy. Watch the video, then please, please click to donate. Prove to me that it doesn’t hurt to ask, because right now Kitchen Sage Needs YOU.

Click Here to Donate and Prove Me Wrong!

12 Jan

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Kitchen Sage, Stretching the Canvas!

January 12, 2017 | By | No Comments

This year was HUGE for Kitchen Sage! Through Steepletown Neighborhood Services, Kitchen Sage has been able to graduate to the next level of service to our community. We actually achieved a proprietary license with the state as a vocational institute, breaking the barriers for our young adults. Our students may not have the means yet to enter into a full culinary program. Our program is only six weeks and gives them opportunities to make money as they learn by helping prep 700 preschool meals a day that help sustain Kitchen Sage’s mission.

Kitchen Sage is a six week program that students have the opportunity to learn basic culinary skills, focus on food safety accreditation(ServSafe), and most importantly self-empowerment.
The self empowerment piece is so vital for our restaurant partners. We have a finite amount of time with our students. It is our goal to give them the WHAT WHAT it takes to be good employees in the hospitality world. These skills extend to to the mindset of KEEPING THE JOB! When they complete this six weeks, we then place them in an 6 week externship in the community that fits the student. This externship is paid for the student as well as giving them an opportunity to prove themselves with the employer.

Our restaurant partners want to take this six week externship to mold their future employee. Chef’s Justin and Karen proclaim, “We want to afford our partners with a blank canvas”! The employer knows that the student has at least the basics from the Culinary Leadership Academy. This is why we tell people that we are just “stretching the canvas!” We are taking our young adults and giving them the confidence to be good employees.

Did you know that by 2019 America will be short an estimated 200,000 chefs? Its because people nowadays want their food prepared not processed! Sounds like a great career huh? Well it is!

13 Oct

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Best Hangover EVER!

October 13, 2016 | By | No Comments

Click HERE to see Chef Chris and Chef Tommy Hanging with Pascua!

When you click this video, you will see why I am so HUNGOVER. Many of you know that my drug of choice has always been FOOD and PEOPLE. So last night was filled with great food and with great neighbors, all to support OUR AMAZING COMMUNITY. I think that it was the sincerity behind all the restaurants coming together to battle it out for our neighborhood that gave me such a high!

Team Chef Mark MacNaughton from the CASCADE ROADHOUSE, Killed it with a pumpkin and turkey “GHOULASH!”
Team Chef Nick Snacker from GANDERS put up an amazing pork belly with a perfect pumpkin risotto with shrimp
Team Chef Chris DeJonge from THE ADA POUR HOUSE put a ridiculous “puff of pumpkin pork love” on my plate that would have stopped traffic
Team Jeff Duba form Heritage Meats and Chef Chris Weimer from BREWERY VIVANT won the PEOPLES CHOICE AWARD for their crazy pumpkin fritter
And finally, Chef Michael Alexander and his team from THE HONEY CREEK INN killed it with a ravioli that would make my mother jealous and stole the JUDGES CHOICE!

So here we are, the morning after! I am still filled with humility, gratitude, and fortified hope for our neighborhood!

Thank you again all you amazing teams and the Cascade Community Foundation, I owe you a ginormous debt of gratitude.

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!