Tuesday, March 19, 2013

TARRANT COMMUNITY KITCHEN

Photo (left) forthworthstocyards.com
'Cowboys and Culture' is the new signature identity that the Fort Worth, Texas city planners have adopted.  If you're an outsider, you might be able to grasp this concept by attending a historical old west event at the Stockyards. However, if you just drive through the present day surroundings, you would see that the landscape does not reflect the Old West.  Rather, it is a vast expanse of terrific urban sprawl.  The county itself has a population of 1.8 million people.

There has been a lot of effort to revitalize Tarrant County, but the transformation has been at a slow rate.  One of the bright spots of positive change can be witnessed at the Tarrant Area Food Bank.  The good people who run this incredible 'little' operation extend their arms to thousands of people in the community as well as serving as a network hub to over 300 charities.

I became acquainted with the Tarrant Area Food Bank through a businessman named Doug Renfro, president of Renfro Foods and board member of the Tarrant Food Bank.  Doug connected me with the Tarrant Community Kitchen.  There I was privileged to join a very hard working group of young chef trainees who were eager to learn and assist in a dinner for a private event.  After my arrival, I learned that the students had actually been given my recipes for their mid-term.  So, when I got in the kitchen I was pleasantly surprised with their familiarity over the menu.  

The dinner turned out great.  In the 'after' kitchen talk, the students rallied with enthusiasm and expressed a desire just to keep getting better. Most of the thanks really goes to Chef Manny Vasquez.  He runs a pretty tight ship at the Community Kitchen.  I am amazed by the fact that his standards for his students are set very high. He is an individual who desires complete success for each student.  In addition to basic culinary training, each student is offered foundational life skill classes, job readiness advice, connection with professional chefs in the industry and ServSafe training. 

Here's a video link from one of the local stations who covered the event.