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Kitchen Blog

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!

11 Aug


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hi again!

August 11, 2016 | By | No Comments

11 Aug


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August 11, 2016 | By | No Comments

11 May


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They say Relationships Can Move Mountains, Well….

May 11, 2015 | By | No Comments

So this David Hood and I meet a couple weeks before my first JuiceBall and we hit it off like a brotha from another motha!(6 years ago!)  I tell him what we are doing for my 40th and he and his company EPS are in without hesitation, donating $1000 to the fund!  But its so much more than that one time check.  We got involved! I started helping out with his company functions/missions and he jumps head first into mine.  Of course we become friends. Incase you have never met David Hood, you should!  I know I sound like a Jon Lovitz Skit on SNL, but really… Get to know David Hood!

David Hood is no saint! None of us are! Please check out his FAILURE LAB video sometime. I think that is why we have become so close as friends.  I think sometimes one has to step outside their world to gain a better appreciation for what they have and we often do this by FAILURE.  Of all my champions and heroes, David Hood makes the most sense. ANYONE can share their time, talent or treasure, Hoody shares it all.  Plus he just gets that you can be a philanthropist when you are not a millionaire. I know first hand that my students need my time more than my money.

Hoody’s climb is all about second chances, like Kitchen Sage.  One should embrace their shortcomings or failures to be that better person.  This is Hoody’s second try at climbing a mountain. We all deserve to try until we complete our goal.  The Mountain Hoody plans to climb rests in all our minds.  We can all climb our mountains with the love and support from our community.

My mountain is creating a neighborhood for a bunch of young adults that were not BLESSED with a neighborhood like mine. My neighbors held me accountable, they cared what I was doing next, they gave me opportunities to learn life lessons and skills. And thank God for Steepletown Neighborhood Services! They have been around for 30 years to teach me and others to better ourselves.  I need us all to become better neighbors for a better community. We can all climb this mountain together.

Check out the videos please.  Of course we want your support, but really ask your self, “What’s My Mountain?”

Thank you Hoody for inspiring all of us! You are truly a King among Men!!


Click right here for something really cool!  Summit-Mt-Rainier-Let-S-Make-A-Difference



23 Mar


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I got ONE! All about Charalyn!

March 23, 2015 | By | No Comments


Remember when I blogged that I just wanted one? One student that would take some of my lessons and run?  Well Meet Charalyn!  First check her out with Jen Pascua on WZZM, then read her thoughts.

My name is Charalyn Martin and I began my career in Chef Tommy’s Kitchen Sage Program. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do in life, and I sure as hell didn’t expect myself to thrive in the culinary industry. I was fascinated by the way my mother and aunts cooked family meals. This fascination grew and by the time I was old enough to use the stove without burning the house down, I experimented. At this time I was more interested in music than I was cooking. I was literally playing 3 different instruments and writing poetry by age 8. As I got older, cooking still secretly grounded me. It was a way for me to create art. Create laughs. Create smiles. Every moment that reeked of heartache, I lightened with a “C’mon honey I got something that’ll fix that”. The way I could shine light on a person’s day became my new “thing”.

The way we handle food, I recently learned, is a beautiful way to solidify emotion. Treating each ingredient with love and care gives food the comfort homey feeling we all look for. The passion and purpose with each knead of flour and stir of stew is what I developed intensely. This trait I carry is what feeds not only the body, but the spirit. My passion for BOTH the food and the people work hand in hand with healing. I personally consider myself a healing chef, but in all honesty what kind of food DOESN’T heal?!? Working with Chef Tommy has taught me an abundance of new skills and knowledge of myself. I didn’t know someone could make a living out of cooking.

So seeing Chef Tommy do his thing and not have to live on the street completely shocked me. I was taught the basic fundamentals of the kitchen, but those have not been my most valuable lessons learned. Watching the way Chef Tommy treated every single person he met inspired me. I used to be a shy and quiet person, but he taught me how to be comfortable with not only myself, but with other people. In a world of conserved people, I am not even sorry for hugging you our first meeting. This new culture of love, acceptance, and HOSPITALITY became my new norm. Completely shaping and EVOLVING from my younger self, I have grown into the individual I am today. Intelligence and maturity wasn’t something I needed work on as much, but becoming comfortable, open, and quick on my feet is something I needed the most. Chef Tommy knew that from the start and that is exactly what he worked me through.

I soon understood that the culinary world is EXACTLY what I was made for, and I work everyday to improve my skills. I will be attending the Secchia Institute for Culinary arts at GRCC this fall. I want to thank Chef Tommy FitzGerald for not only steering me into the path of success, but for giving me the tools to evolve into a better version of myself.

Thank you for listening




Wylliam, Charalyn, and Sylvia serving at the American Disabilities Act Celebration Summer 2015

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