Traverse City Record-Eagle


June 25, 2014

Restaurant teaches cooking skills at homeless shelter

TRAVERSE CITY — Red Ginger staff are using their down time this week to mentor participants in a food service job training program.

The downtown restaurant staff are working alongside Goodwill's Mi Fresh Start trainees to prepare and serve a pop-up style restaurant dinner Thursday at Black Star Farms.

“We always engage guest speakers in our curriculum. But this is the first time chefs at the caliber of Red Ginger have said they want to come and work alongside our staff,” said Brandon Seng, director of Goodwill Food Programs. “It’s more intensive than anything we’ve done.”

Red Ginger co-owner-chef Dan Marsh and sous chefs Don Jurek, Shaun Dobie and Mike Morris shared their cooking expertise with the four trainees during a prep session Wednesday at the Goodwill Inn kitchen. The trainees will work with the chefs and four or five restaurant wait staff Thursday to serve the meal.

“They’re over the moon,” Seng said. “They’ve all been past Red Ginger and know their reputation and brand. And for someone to come and teach Asian cuisine in the kitchen of a homeless shelter is overwhelming.”

The 100-seat, farm-to-table dinner was announced last Friday and had only four spots left by Monday morning.

The menu includes Asian braised short ribs, a local green salad with strawberries and goat cheese, a vegetable dish made with asparagus and potato puree, and a strawberry dessert.

The event is part of Red Ginger’s efforts to keep its employees working while reconstruction continues on the restaurant. A brick pillar and a portion of a ceiling collapsed at the downtown restaurant May 30, resulting in the evacuation of diners and patrons at adjacent Horizon Books and the State Theatre.

Horizon and the State since reopened but Red Ginger is closed for renovations for the “indefinite future,” according to a voice-mail recording.

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