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Providence: Dining for a cause

by Kristi Maier

| @triadfoodies

Last week, the community gathered to celebrate the realization of a dream for many at Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC. Triad Community Kitchen, its nationally acclaimed culinary training program, expanded into a full-fledged restaurant and hospitality facility. A veritable who’s who from across the Triad and the state came to celebrate Providence Restaurant’s Grand Opening.

In August, Triad Community Kitchen (TCK), announced it would open a restaurant in order to implement an advanced training component to its culinary school. The space is in the newly renovated Hilton DoubleTree Hotel on University Parkway in Winston-Salem. TCK is the exclusive food and beverage provider for the hotel, managing all pricing and menus, from room service all the way to catering operations and a 70-seat restaurant plus banquet facilities. Additionally, TCK fully staffs the employees at Providence.

The Grand Opening was a way for Providence Restaurant to show off the space as well as give guests an idea of what they could expect when dining there or hiring them for a soiree. TCK executive chef, Jeff Bacon, says they are already seeing the kind of growth and skill in students that they hoped an actual restaurant environment would bring. “The past month has been a whirlwind of activity and joy,” Bacon said. “The thrill of opening and seeing so many of our alumni find their roles within the Providence Restaurant operation has been incomparable.

As the first few weeks have passed we’ve seen so many of our Hospitality Residents uncovering gifts that they did not know they had, especially as they explore assignments outside of the kitchen.”

Leading the kitchen inside Providence is Chef Eddie Sautro. Bacon says the goal is to make the entire operation self-sufficient, which will only benefit Triad Community Kitchen’s students. “We hope that Providence will equip our alumni residents with comprehensive training in all aspects of a hospitality operation,” Sautro said. “It will qualify them for higher paying leadership positions in food service establishments.”

Bacon adds they were thrilled with the grand opening turnout. “We are so blessed to have such a great support core. The opportunity happened so quickly that it has been difficult to take a breath and savor the miracle, but Monday was an opportunity to do that. It was also great to appreciate all of the people who supported our campaign, the Food Bank employees who have believed in this dream and the TCK/Providence staff who worked so hard to make it all happen.”

Right now, Bacon says he’s back and forth between the school and the restaurant all the time now. Both he and his assistant, Tina Faughnan, have offices at Second Harvest and at Providence. But he says once the operation hits its stride, he anticipates being at the school three days week and at Providence the other two days.

So what’s next at Providence and Triad Community Kitchen? Bacon says they’re thankful to be offering a Thanksgiving Buffet at Providence. Hours are from 12:00-6:00pm and reservations are recommended. After that, he says they’ll go back to “we will keep focusing on building our patronage and building ties within our neighborhood. The whirlwind is over now and we get down to the business of taking care of our guests and engage our team as they support our mission.” That mission? Dining for a Cause.

About Second Harvest Food Bank of NWNC””The chapter manages an 18-county service area combating hunger. One in six people in our area struggles with hunger with more than one in four children lacking access to sufficient food to meet nutritional needs. The agency supplies millions of pounds of food and grocery products to children, families, seniors and others in need.

Triad Community Kitchen is an intensive culinary and life skills training program, offering pathways to employment in the food service and hospitality industries to unemployed and underemployed individuals. Students are able to support Second Harvest Food Bank’s food distribution program by preparing ready-to-heat meals for partner agency programs. !

KRISTI MAIER is food writer, blogger and cheerleader for all things local who even enjoys cooking in her kitchen, though her kidlets seldom appreciate her efforts.

WANNA go?

Providence Restaurant is located in the Hilton DoubleTree Hotel at 5790 University Parkway, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. For information or reservations call 336-744-3456. Or visit hungerwnc.org.

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