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25 Apr

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Out of the Parking Lot and into the FIRE!

April 25, 2013 | By | No Comments

The only thing suppressing my appetite at this time is the anger in my gut!  All the questions going through my head: Why don’t they teach Home Economics anymore? Why can’t a kid access even an apple in my ‘hood? How could anyone NOT see the price of convenience and its toll on our nation? Where could I send these teens for mentorship? Who even mentors teens in the culinary arts?  Why can’t I have a Meijer downtown GR? (OH to DREAM!) Did I bring home my cherry salsa?!!!

It all made sense though. Why should a struggling market sell perishables, especially if their customers don’t know what to do with them? No one seems to support GRPS, so why throw money to revitalize an old program that can’t be quantified on the MEAP? (even though they are all our kids, oh and as far as the MEAP …. insert your own profanity!). I know my chef friends would totally sign up to ANY program mentoring our culinary future if only we had one. Finally I am sure Meijer has done their own diligence and research to see if a store downtown would thrive (Still Dreaming).

Still angry, I realized that maybe I should point the finger at myself. Then I looked on my wall and saw a pic of the first JuiceBall. I looked at all the momentum of what a silly birthday party could do. We have done well with JuiceBall, awareness of Kid’s Food Basket and their mission, JuiceBoxes galore, and amazing community involvement. What about the possibility of a springboard program off JuiceBall? Almost candidly I asked myself:

What would Mary K. Hoodhood do?

Then I smiled, made my nachos, and made a list of people to call.

Don’t worry, I had more than enough cherry salsa for my nachos!!

salsa 2-5449

24 Apr

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Now Back to the Parking Lot!

April 24, 2013 | By | No Comments

So after I assured the teens that I was NOT the chef they see on TV by sharing with them my 14 hour day with little pay, I began to see something in their eyes you would not expect from any teen…engagement!  These kids were cool, respectful, and down right funny! They had expressed the reasons why my neighborhood would not employ them but still could not wait for an opportunity to be a chef.  I gave them some sincere optimism with existing avenues that they should check out, knowing full well that the resources for this are scarce.

Time for some El Matador chips!  As a went to purchase the base of my nachos, here is one of the guys from outside in front of me buying junk and more junk to wash it down.  I know, you know that this was probably his dinner. Anger level, luke warm!

Time for an intervention!!  I very bluntly informed him that being a chef starts with his belly!  Because when you put kick butt awesome grub in yer belly, you want to share your passion with your family, your friends and one day in your own restaurant! After asking if he had access to an oven or microwave, I sent him to grab a bag of chips because he was going to make nachos for his homies!  So I grab the block cheese, the french onion dip, the can of beans, and the jar of salsa(God forbid real ingredients in the neighborhood!).  The kid comes back with a national brand bag of tortilla chips that look like they have been on a truck from Texas! Anger level, definitely HOT!

Time to pass on my mantra,”GO local or MOVE!” I explain why he should purchase the chips made by his neighbors, even though they SEEM more expensive, I showed him a breakdown of value.  Now I am REALLY MAD!(you know I want to use worst words, but gonna keep it clean!) I check out, say good night, go home and stew over my nachos!…..

22 Apr

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Forget the Big Bang, We will start with the Big Idea…

April 22, 2013 | By | No Comments

The Story of Kitchen Sage

Until one fall evening I was feeling pretty good about my contributions to my city and the surrounding areas of Grand Rapids.  With three annual birthday parties under my belt, the “JuiceBall”, I had gained great acceptance as a third-party fundraiser for my favorite charity- Kids’ Food Basket.  With my friends, we not only threw one of the most fun charitable events of the New Year — but we were able to provide KFB with countless juice boxes for their sack suppers. The funny thing was that the first JuiceBall was really meant to be a “Friend Raiser” to help put KFB on the map. This was my first taste of how great my city could be.

So back to the night that I realized that sometimes your best is not good enough.  I happen to live downtown Grand Rapids, Heritage Hill to be exact.  What a great and diverse neighborhood to call home, but it really lacks a decent grocery store.  The store in my neighborhood is not friendly for a farm-to-table chef, but it does have some great local tortilla chips which is perfect for the chef that has homemade salsa at his command…NACHOS! Pulling up I saw some of my neighbors hanging out.  Some may find five city teens hanging out in a parking lot suspect and what happened next was a pleasant surprise.  Sporting my chef coat, these kids chose to engage me like I was Jamie Oliver himself………..

22 Apr

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A New Recipe for Grand Rapids!

April 22, 2013 | By | No Comments

Please stay tuned for Chef Tommy FitzGerald’s HISTORY OF KITCHEN SAGE! The mission: to provide access to nutrition and culinary awareness to teens in Grand Rapids Michigan!