Fullanthropism, Palatethropism, and/or Hedonosity
Although the spirit of giving should be all the year through, during Hallowthankmas things get kicked up a notch. From candy for the kiddies to prezzies for your peeps, October through December/January is the prime time.
Given that this time of year is definitely the time for – well, giving – it’s a good idea to think of ways to combine hedonism with helping out those around us. Call it hedonosity, if you will. Or perhaps palatethropism is a better name. Or fullanthropism.
For “fullanthropy” is the tagline for a fab local 501(c)3 non-profit called FareStart (Twitter @farestart and Facebook facebook.com/farestart). I’m sure you’ve heard of it before. It’s been around for nearly 20 years, having started in 1992 in the kitchen of the Josephinum Hotel on 2nd Avenue, next door to the Moore Theatre. (Prior to that, for 4 years its origins were found in a for-profit business by the name of Common Meals, founded in 1988 by chef and entrepreneur David Lee, who recognized the need to serve nutritious and culturally appropriate food to Seattle’s homeless and disadvantaged populations.) For the past 19 years, FareStart has prepped over 4.5 million million meals to help feed disadvantaged men, women, and children and have trained close to 5,000 individuals, taking them from “knife skills to life skills.” Literally.
Its mission is all about contribution, nutrition, and community:
FareStart provides a community that transforms lives by empowering homeless and disadvantaged men, women, and families to achieve self-sufficiency through life skills, job training and employment in the food service industry.
As mentioned above, the year 1992 was the year that this organization began as a non-profit to train the population of individuals that they were serving, rather than simply provide them with hot meals. Then, on February 1, 2007, FareStart moved to its current culinary location in the Denny Triangle neighborhood at 700 Virginia Street.
Last year alone, FareStart informed me that they have provided referral services to some 690 homeless and/or disadvantaged individuals and trained 195 individuals. Their free, 16-week-long Adult Culinary Job Training and Placement Program boasted 102 graduates that same year. All FareStart students earn their keep from day one, by in turn giving back to their community by preparing meals for homeless shelters and low-income daycare shelters 365 days out of the year: in 2010, over 500,000 such meals were prepared, delivered, and gratefully consumed.
As of 2003, FareStart also has Café @ 2100, located in the Mount Baker neighborhood at 2100 24th Ave South. Their Youth Barista Training and Education Program, which takes place at Café @ 2100, works in partnership with YouthCare, a Seattle non-profit dedicated to the end of youth homelessness. This program involves youth ages 16 to 23 years of age. As of 2009, FareStart also offers Graduate Support Services to ensure homelessness is a thing of the past: ongoing access to the FareStart community as well as assistance with housing, job search, health care and counseling.
This year, FareStart launched Catalyst Kitchens, a nation-wide collaborative network geared to spread the spirit and structure of FareStart nation-wide. Also this year, FareStart was named “Humanitarian of the Year” by the James Beard Foundation, one of the nation’s most prestigious food and beverage industry recognition programs.
Poverty is the worst we’ve seen in 5 decades: for example, according to an interpretation of a report by the U.S. Census Bureau, entitled The Research SUPPLEMENTAL POVERTY MEASURE: 2010 by the University of Washington’s West Coast Poverty Center, in 2010, approximately 15-16% of people in the United States suffered from poverty – that’s 1 in 6 Americans living in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s report entitled Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010.
How to help FareStart:
- Patronize. In 2010, FareStart generated an impressive 1/3 of its annual operating revenue through its business operations, which include: FareStart Contract Meals (over 2,000 per day), FareStart Catering, FareStart Café @ 2100 (which, in addition to espresso drinks, also serves pastries, soups, sammies, and salads), lunches at the FareStart Restaurant (weekdays from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., with currently everything on the menu under $12), and Guest Chef Night at the FareStart Restaurant, held on Thursdays. (They offer gift cards, too.) FareStart also encourages you to support the FareStart Restaurants Partners.
- Hire an Adult Graduate.
- Hire a Barista Graduate.
Recently your Hedonista attended a Guest Chef Night as media (a rare honor, indeed). Chef Brian Scheehser of The Heathman Hotel’s Trellis Restaurant put together a tasty trio of courses: Char-Roasted Tomato Soup to start, Pan Seared Free Range Chicken as the main (great polenta), and Lemon Sage Flan, Cookies & Truffles (all gorgeous and tasty) as the dessert finish.
All courses were fab and delicious, although I confess that the soup was less “roasted” than I had anticipated it would be. The meal was served up by volunteers from Boeing Enterprise Services. Volunteer servers may mean more informal, casual service that may have a few kinks in the system, but hey, given the worthiness of the cause (and the fact that all revenue and gratuities go to FareStart’s culinary job training and placement programs), it just adds to the uniqueness of the evening. All this for just $24.95 (soon to be bumped up to $29.95 effective January 19th, 2012), excluding beverages (wine, beer, soda, iced tea, coffee, and hot tea are available).
And the Guest Chef Night – a program which has thus far raised about $3.5 million – involves such chefs as Chef-Partner Franz E. Junga of Il Fornaio, Chef Phillippe Thomelin of Olivar, and Chef Chris Hartfield of Paragon Restaurant and Bar. (The FareStart website posts a list of Past Guest Chefs.)
Upcoming Guest Chef Nights include the following:
- December 1, 2011 ~ Chef Jerry Traunfeld of Poppy;
- December 8, 2011 ~ Chefs Max Messmer & Lucas Sautter of Alderbrook Resort & Spa; and
- December 15, 2011 ~ Chef Matt Costello of the Inn at Langley.
It is during these nights when are when the graduates are honored and provided with such tools as their own set of professional chef knives, a copy of the Food Lover’s Companion Guide, a Food Handlers Card, a one year subscription to Rouxbe (an online cooking school), and a graduation certificate. They are then ready to join the work force in a dishwasher, prep, or line cook position.
What’s more, this past fall, Consolidated Restaurants, Inc. (CRI) has teamed up with FareStart in a new joint Externship Program. CRI’s Metropolitan Grill and Elliott’s Oyster House in downtown Seattle (the latter of which has had guest chefs involved with FareStart in the past, including Elliott’s current Executive Chef Robert Spaulding and Chef Eric Hellner, who is now the Executive Chef at the Metropolitan Grill) offer a 10-week rotation at both restaurants for FareStart graduates, during which time they continue training with FareStart through a structured curriculum. Those individuals who complete the externship receive a Certificate of Completion and be eligible to apply for existing job openings within CRI.
Sometimes, all it takes for tough times to turn around is a little support, guidance, and a chance.
And if all that can be accomplished with the enjoyment of good food, that’s hedonosity.