Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Hatching Dreams

Richmond is a growing place. Urban gardens spring up in warehouse districts, next to parking lots, and within a tomato’s throw of busy interstates. Breweries? Ten years ago Richmond had one. Now there’s 30. Coffee shops and roasters. Specialty packaged foods from A to Z. And restaurants? A world of foods are around every Richmond corner.

Ever wonder how these businesses get started? Blood, sweat, tears, seat-of-the-pants learning, desperate appeals for money, wings and prayers? Not anymore. Now fledgling foodie dreamers have a nest they can feather before taking flight. Now they have Hatch Kitchen RVA.

“Hatch Kitchen RVA is a food and beverage business incubator,” says Ryan Evans, Reynolds Culinary Arts graduate and Director of Kitchen Operations at Hatch Kitchen RVA. “We do have a full commercial kitchen, but the shared kitchen is only part of what we do. We offer classes through Startup Virginia and The Apple Cart with instruction on just about every aspect of starting and running a food business. We have 75 mentors - consultants in marketing, branding, accounting, law, and governmental regulations - who are available to answer members’ questions and sort out start up issues. One member had confusing legal and accounting issues, and we were able to help him. Having this access to knowledge and advice can save a start-up thousands of dollars, and probably millions of headaches.”

“Our members dream of starting a food business,” Ryan continues, “we dream of helping them do that. We don’t expect them to stay. We give them a place to operate while they learn and grow their business, then we will encourage them to go. Members come to us with varying skills and needs. Nightingale Ice Cream is here. They are a strong, viable business selling their ice cream sandwiches in stores in several states. But, then there are members who have left their day jobs to pursue an idea and are starting from scratch.”

From his own experience, Ryan has a deep understanding of this start up process. When he came to Reynolds he had been around the food business most of his life. Reynolds gave him the opportunity to make a career out of his passion rather than just work in a kitchen. “It was a great, pivotal time in my life,” Ryan said. “I was going to school full-time and working full-time as a sous chef. For my internship, the restaurant saw I didn’t need kitchen experience so I spent my time working in the office. Much of what I learned then I use every day. Many of my classmates didn’t like the desk-based classes like accounting, but those have been the most valuable for me. I use those skills to save money. There is more to the food business than food.”

Ryan credits Chef Jesse Miller with showing him just how many career options there are in the food business. “Chef Miller told us we didn’t have to be just a chef. He encouraged us to think bigger. He brought in speakers and took us places to show us what was possible. At first I said, that’s not me, I wanted to be the chef. But, I began to realize how valuable that perspective really is.”

Ryan continued to work in restaurants and bakeries after graduation, he became a cheese monger, he helped several small restaurants get up and running, and he was an independent restaurant consultant. He was working nights and weekends and stayed home during the day take care of his young family – one son, and then a set of twins – when a friend told him about a couple of guys who had an idea. They wanted to help food service businesses get started. “They don’t have restaurant kitchen experience and they’re having issues,” the friend said. That “idea” was Hatch Kitchen. Ryan started as a consultant and quickly became Director of Kitchen Operations. He says, “I’m excited to have gotten this long term career opportunity.”

“Chef Miller taught us to focus on the details. Not just the details of the food. But, efficiency. Cost. Cleanliness. Everything matters. He had a strict dress code. Students would ask, “Who cares what I wear, I’m just cooking,” and Chef would explain how every detail mattered. You’ve got to look good, too. In this position at Hatch I apply that discipline to our operations, I can also share that kind of lesson with those who are just getting started.”

Like its members, Hatch Kitchen is just getting started, and Ryan finds himself nurturing his own start-up process. “Expansion plans include a multipurpose CafĂ© where members can eat and conduct business, but would double as an event space where members can cater events, showcase their products, or if they have a food truck, they can test out what it would be like to have a brick and mortar location. We want to make this space as utilitarian as possible. We are also adding private work areas, small rooms, where members can customize their own dedicated space and have more control. This is particularly important for packaged goods.”

Here Ryan laughs and gets a little breathless, “As Hatch Kitchen grows I’ve had to learn to be a general contractor and a tradesman, an electrician, a plumber, and everything else. I don’t just give members tours and solve their problems, I also oversee the progress of construction. I’ve learned so much over the past year and gained tremendous confidence. There is much to do and the days are very busy with a multitude of tasks, just like in a restaurant. It’s been a wild ride.”

Richmond is indeed a growing place. And its growth has always started with a seed, an idea, a hope, or a dream. Now there’s help. Now there’s a nest. Now there’s Hatch Kitchen RVA. And it’s all about hatching dreams.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Meet Reynolds Culinary Arts Student

John Bradley

What motivated you to study culinary arts?
Baking started as a release from my day job, but became more than a hobby; it turned into a from-home business when I sold holiday pies for a few years. I loved how the food I was making was a means to connect with different people, and as tough as it was I loved the work of just baking a ton of pastry. I want to learn how to build a career around baking like that safely and sustainably, and the culinary arts program at J. S. Reynolds offers me that opportunity.

Where are you in your culinary studies?
I’m in my first year of the pastry arts program, so just getting started! 

What are you working on now?
In class, I’m practicing knife cuts (especially the tourne) and studying for ServSafe certification. Outside of school, I’m beginning a pastry/baker internship at Camden’s Dogtown Market.

What is your favorite task as a culinary student?
Probably our lab’s mise-en-place. There’s something energizing and relaxing about having everything ready and in place before we dig into the night’s work.  

What is your favorite ingredient?
I love using yams! I use them in pies, tacos, soups, and they work for any time of day.

Do you have a “signature dish”?
Definitely: I make mean chocolate sweet potato pie.

What would you most like to do in culinary arts when you graduate?
I’d like to spend some time learning about pastry in other parts of the world, and then open my own bakery.

What is your favorite restaurant in Richmond?
Mary Angela’s will always have my heart.

What would you tell other potential students interested in studying culinary arts at Reynolds?
A big part of studying culinary arts is that it’s learning to do something for other people. So come ready to work hard, to be open to criticism, and to be positive.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Meet Reynolds Culinary Arts Student

Sara Baker

What motivated you to study culinary arts?
I graduated from J. Sargeant Reynolds in 2010 with my Pastry Arts Career Study Certificate, but came back in 2016 to get my Associates Degree. The main reason I came back was to learn the business side of pastry and how to properly run a business. It was an added bonus to work alongside other like minded, passionate individuals who I enjoyed their company and have helped to re-inspire me. 

Where are you in your
culinary studies?

I’m at the last step in obtaining my degree which for me is finishing up my internship, which I’m currently doing at a bakery in Church Hill called Proper Pie Co. After I complete my internship it will be time for me to graduate with my Associates Degree in Pastry Arts. 

What are you working on now?
I’m essentially working thirty two hours at my internship and about thirty five plus hours at my regular job at Sweet Fix bakery. I’ve been working like crazy this past week because we are about to leave in a few days to film a cake competition on the Food Network that will air in December. It’s been a lot of sculpting, planning, armatures and long nights, but it is worth it for the overall experience.

What is your favorite task as a culinary student?
Surprisingly, my favorite task as a student was taking Cost Control. It was one of the hardest classes that I took at Reynolds but also one of the most useful ones too. Especially if you are looking to start your own business or help the one you work for right now get a better idea of how much ingredients really cost and how much you should be charging for dishes. I also like K.C.’s Food and Beverage Service Management class with Mr. Fixman too.  

What is your favorite ingredient?
I don’t have a favorite ingredient, but I do love the flavor of Rosewater and Grenadine mixed together in an Italian Meringue Buttercream and paired with Earl Grey Cake. I guess right now I’m really fond of using Bergamot extract in my desserts. 

Do you have a “signature dish”?
I haven’t made it in a long time, but I can make a mean tiramisu from scratch, which also happens to be one of my favorite desserts. I soaked the ladyfingers in Vincent Van Gogh Espresso Vodka and instant espresso. This gives it a good flavor without overpowering the dessert with the alcohol, which I personally think is unappetizing. 

What would you most like to do in culinary arts when you graduate?
The first thing I would like to do is another internship at Blackberry Farms located in Wallard, Tennessee for a few months. I’ve been thinking about moving to another state, but I think I would like to try working in an upscale hotel as a pastry cook so that I can further my growth and skill level.  

What is your favorite restaurant in Richmond?
I love food and I really like small hole in the wall type restaurants. I’m currently addicted to Nate’s Bagel’s located on Cary Street, the vermicelli rice noodle bowl from Pho So 1, and the Tuna option that they have at the Poke Bowl on Broad Street. I’m also a huge fan of Thai Top Ten on Grace Street and the Indian Restaurant called Lemon on Broad Street. 

What would you tell other potential students interested in studying culinary arts at Reynolds?
I would tell potential students that are interested in getting into this field to keep pushing yourself, never give up on your passion, practice and to find a good group of peers who help to keep you focused and motivated. Also, always stay humble and never compare yourself to other people. Learn and grow from your mistakes and failures. There is always something to be learned from everyone in the kitchen regardless of experience or skill level.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Employee Profile: Pam Lamb

Assistant Professor/Mathematics

Reynolds School of Math, Science, & Engineering

Where did you grow up and what was it like?
I was born and raised in Richmond and Chesterfield County.  

How long have you worked for Reynolds?
I started as an adjunct in 1990 and full-time in January 1993.

What Math classes do you teach? 
I teach MTE courses, Quantitative Reasoning (MTH 154), Precalculus (MTH 161), and Statistics (MTH 245).

When and how did you discover your interest and,
or talent, in math?

I don’t even remember making the decision to major in Math.  I started out as a French major, took time out to work in an office, and then went back to college as a Math major.  Why—I don’t know. I had no clue what I was going to do with my degree, but I was given a Statistics course to teach the summer after earning my Master’s degree.  It was love at first lecture and I have been in love with explaining Math ever since.

What is the most challenging aspect of teaching math?
Maintaining enthusiasm in myself and the students while wading through all of the negativity surrounding Math (I hate math, Math is not my best subject, why do I have to take this course, when am I ever going to use this, etc.) and getting students to see that everyone can understand and do Math on some level.

What is your favorite activity outside of your work at Reynolds?
I like working on crafts and watching Nascar.

What do you like most about Richmond?
Going to the Nascar races twice a year with my sister.

If you won $100 Million in the Mega Millions lottery what would you do with the money?
I would give a portion to charity, give some to relatives, and if there is enough leftover, build a STEM building at Reynolds!

NSG 152 Students are BUSY!

Nursing students currently enrolled in NSG 152 (Health Care Participant), a second semester nursing course, focus on community health, especially health care and health promotion for all age groups. Students address all three levels of health promotion: primary, secondary and tertiary prevention.* 

Focusing on community health means getting involved with the community. Here are a few of the health promotion events students will be hosting this spring: 

  • Students are conducting blood pressure screenings daily at the Downtown campus, 1st floor lobby during the month of February. Everyone - faculty, staff, students and the public  - are invited to get a free screening and to learn more about the "Silent Killer." See the Reynolds Calendar for specific dates and times.
  • Students will be conducting breast cancer awareness information sessions late March until mid-April. These sessions will be held daily at the Downtown campus, 1st floor lobby. Stop by and see what these students have created to address those at risk and to provide information to prevent further occurrence of this disease. See the Reynolds Calendar for specific dates and times.
  • Some NSG 152 students will be conducting health screenings at VCU Children's Pavilion for the Special Olympics, where they will have an opportunity to interact with some area athletes.
  • All students complete a "Windshield" survey of neighborhoods in and around the Richmond area. This is used to identify community needs.  Students will spend a day in a middle school or high school clinic working with a school nurse and providing education to those students who attend the clinic.
  • Students can elect to participate in FeedMore's Community Kitchen, assisting with meal preparation for individuals enrolled in "Meals on Wheels". They can also choose to assist in the Sports Backers Monument Ave. 10K in April.

Reynolds instills in nursing students a desire to assist and serve those in the community. Faculty and staff: Please stop by and give these students a chance to assist and serve you this spring.

Contributed by Lisa Stone, RN, MSN
Associate Professor
School of Nursing and Allied Health

* Primary, Secondary, Tertiary Defined
Primary prevention incorporates education to prevent illness and disease.  This includes smoking cessation and immunizations.

Secondary prevention includes any screenings leading to diagnosis of disease with early treatment, such as blood pressure and breast cancer screenings.

Tertiary prevention is focused on decreasing complications from disease, for example--hypertension causing either stroke or heart attack.

Meet Reynolds Culinary Student

Adam Frederick

What motivated you to study culinary arts?
My motivation to study Culinary Arts came from my first kitchen job in Fredericksburg at the Sunken Well Tavern. I had never worked in a kitchen before, started as a dishwasher, as everyone does, and the rest is history. It was a very small community-oriented restaurant that taught me a lot of the first lessons every good cook learns and they stuck with me. Working in the kitchen was the first time I had the desire to become better and saw the path to it.

Where are you in your culinary studies?
I'm currently performing my internship at Shula's Steakhouse in Short Pump. Once I finish this class in May, I will be in my final Capstone class. In the past three years the Reynolds program has increased my knowledge of theory and technique at least ten times what it was before I started. I still have a lot to learn from actually working in the industry and different environments with other talented chefs and culinarians. Even though I only have two culinary classes left, my studies are only just beginning.

What are you working on now?
Right now, I'm working on my menu for capstone. I'm trying to get ahead of the game and at least have a few ideas before I step into the classroom. I have four or five cookbooks on my shelf with over half of the recipes bookmarked. Once or twice a week I will make one of the recipes I like to see if it would be worth tweaking for my menu.
What is your favorite task as a culinary student?
Cost Control is one of my favorites because that really is how most people make or break a restaurant. There are thousands of people running food service operations that don't have the knowledge that a culinary professional would.  There are plenty of opportunities to make a career out of helping these people. Controlling cost is also one factor that sets chefs apart from cooks. In general my favorite tasks as a culinary student are the ones that challenge me: anything that I'm uncomfortable with or that makes me look at my notes a few times in order to grasp. It's these things that make me a better cook and will help me progress into the parts of this industry that I want to be in.

What is your favorite ingredient?
Cilantro or Oregano, or a blend of both.

Do you have a “signature dish”?
My signature dish is definitely pizza. I love to experiment with different doughs, sauces, topping combinations every time I make a new one, which is at least once a week.

What would you most like to do in culinary arts when you graduate?
When I graduate I would like to work for a hotel and use that job to travel to Europe. I believe that by travelling to Europe, I will expand my frame of reference so far that when I do eventually come back to the U.S., I will have a lot of experiences that most people here do not have. 

What is your favorite restaurant in Richmond?
My favorite restaurant in Richmond is Pop's Market on Grace. Every time I go there, whether it is for breakfast, lunch or dinner, the food is always amazing. They bake all of their breads and pastries in house and no matter what you decided to eat it is delicious every time. Not only that, but the service is always friendly no matter how busy they are. I recommend the Sage Sausage Egg and Cheese on an Everything Bagel for breakfast and the Italian Grinder for lunch.

What would you tell other potential students interested in studying culinary arts at Reynolds?
Make sure that you have realistic expectations of your time at Reynolds. Too many times I have heard people with great ideas, but no way to back them up.  If you cannot do well in your entry level classes in school then you won't do well in the industry either. On a lighter note, make friends and learn from your peers. It's not only your instructors that have important knowledge to share, but also the people working right next to you for the same goal.

Friday, February 1, 2019

A Spiritual Being Having an Earthly Experience

  • 18.8 million Veterans live in the United States. 
  • 725,028 veterans and 89,303 active duty military personnel call Virginia their home.
  • Virginia is one of only six states with veteran populations greater than 10% of their total adult population. 

Even with a multitude of federal and state programs, the needs of these veterans often go unmet. Who helps veterans who cannot get to the VA? Who helps incarcerated veterans? Who helps veterans who cannot help themselves?

Linwood Alford. That’s who.
“I’m not a religious person,” says Linwood, “I’m a spiritual being having an earthly experience.” Religious, spiritual or earthly, Linwood’s life and work are other worldly. He is a big-hearted man with a big-hearted man’s presence. He is willing to go where he is needed, and to do the work that needs to be done: Linwood says he was called to help his fellow veterans.

Linwood was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia and graduated from John Marshall High School. From high school he joined the military, and from there he went to work for the Veterans Administration in Atlanta. His “call” came in 2006. He returned to Richmond, and immediately started the Open Door Resource Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping veterans get the benefits and services they need and are entitled to. 

“I started college, but never finished. When I came back to Richmond I needed to finish,” Linwood said. “I came to Reynolds to get a Substance Abuse Certificate. I was half way through the classes when another student said I should get a Human Services Degree. He told me it didn’t take that much more work. I was half way through those classes when Kevin Holder [Adjunct Faculty – Humanities & Social Sciences] told me I should get my bachelor’s degree, he said it didn’t take much more work. Bluefield College had a program. I didn’t want to get another degree, and I told Kevin that.” 

Linwood graduated from Reynolds Community College with honors in May 2016 with an AAS in Human Services and a Career Studies Certificate in Substance Abuse Counseling. “I did not want to get another degree.” But off to Bluefield he went anyway, earning his BS in Human Services, with honors, in December of 2016. The amount of education Linwood took on in a short time was amazing, but consider, the entire time he was in school, Linwood was also working full time at Open Door during the week, and then on weekends he was working as a Resident Counselor. In addition to being dedicated, spiritual being must also be tireless.

“I don’t know if I would be where I am today without Reynolds,” Linwood gets emotional when he talks about his achievements. “They helped me, encouraged me, and set me on my way. I had the pleasure of being the first recipient of the Eva Hardy Entrepreneur Award towards my education in the amount of $3,500. This was made possible through The Virginia Foundation for Community College Education with the assistance of Ms. Anne McCaffrey, Director of Community Engagements. They certainly fine-tuned my plans. They certainly fine-tuned my plans. The professors were all a great, great help. Being able to help veterans who need disability has been so rewarding. God has blessed me in so many ways.”

After 13 years of operation, Open Door has over 700 clients. “Word of mouth is how people come,” Linwood says. “A lot of them call their kin for help, and we help.” Word of mouth has brought help from the community, too. Everything at Open Door has been donated - desks, chairs, tables, even 70 computers. Open Door has now outgrown its original space. Its offices are overflowing and Linwood continues to expand. His vision of what should come next is crystal clear: “What I need now is a building to put all of this in. I would love to have a three or four story building. The first floor would be intake, the second floor would be classrooms and offices, the third for temporary housing, and the fourth a recreation area.”

“At this time we are moving away from veteran benefits to mental health,” Linwood says. “The greatest need of our veterans today is mental health services. One of the largest populations in our jails is veterans. There are so many veterans they have their own pods. We go out to the prisons to talk with them and find out what they need. They may have a 100% mental disability, but they only get 10% while they are incarcerated. When they get out they have to file paperwork and ask to be reinstated. We help with that, too.”

“There is a time and season for everything,” Linwood notes, “and it is time for us to help veterans with mental health issues. I want to have classes to help them learn how to move through the VA system. Many vets don’t know about, and if they do, they don’t know how to navigate it.”

Linwood feels just as strongly about helping and empowering students, especially Reynolds students. Every semester he gives internships to two Reynolds students seeking degrees or certificates in health and human services. This hands-on experience is a great supplement to their education. 

Linwood explains: “They learn the structure of the organization first, then they start working cases, they learn how to do intake, they learn all about benefits. They actually go in to the prisons and jails and work with the veterans.” Raymond Ward was an Open Door intern during his last semester at Reynolds in the spring of 2018. He is now a Reynolds graduate, he works for Linwood, and he is attending Virginia State University to get his degree in social work.

Spiritual? Earthly? Linwood Alford is many things. He is a dedicated, compassionate defender of our veterans who fought for us, but are now unable to fight for themselves. He is a staunch advocate of education, and its transformative powers. He is a mentor and a coach. But at the core of it all, Linwood is, as he says, a spiritual being willing to answer life’s most pressing, earthly calls, and to act.

Statistics: US Department of Veterans Affairs, National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics, National Conference of State Legislatures.