Tag Archives: community

foodie b’eat: Food Industry Crawfish Boil Celebrates its Culinary Community

Featured in YES! Weekly on 6/8

Photo Jun 05, 4 59 18 PM

I feel like I’ve talked a good bit about what makes a thriving culinary scene. Sure, it’s imperative to have great restaurants. Talented chefs, you betcha. Bustling cities, no doubt. But what makes the culinary scene, where we are blessed to live, so special, is the brotherhood and sisterhood that is becoming more and more evident and that was very clear at a recent Local Industry supper this past Sunday. I was actually so excited to be a part of it. It’s something that mr. foodie and I have often talked about…with a twist and one day, if the chefs are on board, I’ll let you all in on our idea…until then, my lips are sealed (sorry).

There were about 100 restaurant industry folks there and it felt positively inner circle…and in a way it kind of was…but at the heart of it was community in all the right ways. Front of house staff, back of house staff, beverage pros and farmers…all gathered together to cook, talk about the past and upcoming weeks and generally just enjoying food and fellowship, after a hectic week that is the food business.

Organizer John Bobby, who’s the chef at Roosters, A Noble Grille in Winston-Salem, says it’s the second event of hopefully many…all to be held at an area farm so that those in the industry can get to know one another and the farmer in particular. “This is a very progressive kind of event that’s happening in a lot of cities. It’s a way for us to fellowship and break bread.” Bobby says he didn’t just limit the invitations to Winston-Salem chefs and extended invites to chefs from all over the Triad. “I wanted to include as many people as I could. We’re a community….if we didn’t get together and collaborate, it would simply be competitive. Or we’d see each other out and about and just say, ‘hey’, but we should really strive to support one another. And support the farmers and purveyors who provide for us.”

The theme was a Crawfish Boil and everyone was encouraged to bring a potluck dish to share. And one thing you’ll get from folks who work in kitchens or farms is some truly delicious eats. And some fun stuff that you don’t normally see in restaurant kitchens, like Ham Hock Terrine with pickled okra and pepper jelly. Or a Carolina Cassoulet thrown together by Chef Jeff Bacon of Providence Kitchen from remnants of smoked sausage, chicken confit and beans. Not to mention a straight up rustic boil with taters and corn and crawfish thrown on a table. There were kids activities too and many a crawdad kept the little ones busy along with some other outdoor fun… and mud pies.

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Bobby says that changing it up every month and visiting different farms helps increase the awareness of what our local farms are doing. Mitchell Britt, owner of Krankies Coffee in downtown Winston-Salem and Krankies Downtown Farm, host of the event, says having a farm is just another step in a direction he feels they’ve always been headed. “When we decided to take Krankies to the next level and open our kitchen up for daily service, we decided then that we couldn’t do that unless we intended to grown much of our own food.” Britt and his team farm on three acres in a mixed area of residences and businesses in West Salem. There, Krankies farm is growing herbs, lettuce, greens, fennel, tatsoi, just to name a few. There are wildflowers, sunflowers, buckwheat…and it’s all thriving with life and bees and ladybugs and all things that any farm needs.  Did you know you ca actually order ladybugs from Amazon? The things you learn from urban farmers 😉

Chef John Bobby and Krankies Owner Mitchell Britt

Krankies Downtown Farm is one of the first of its kind to receive an urban agricultural permit and likely will become a model for other urban farms like it.  Britt says, “It’s really a labor of love, with multi-faceted benefits. One day we want to be able to get this particular farm to the point where we might be able to donate it and it can then be a community farm.”

At the event, speaking with farmers and chefs who not only buy from them, but also work the fields with them, it’s so interesting to see how cyclical things can be. As mr. foodie pointed out,  a generation or two ago, many of our parents or grandparents couldn’t wait to get away from the farm and get to the city and now we’re seeing more and more, an appreciation for farming and the land and knowing where our food comes from. Even more ironic is now, the farm has come to the city.

And people are loving it.

Where’s your favorite farm? Do you have one in your city?

 

 

foodie b’eat: A Community Surrounds Skippy’s

The story “A Grand Finale for Skippy’s” was originally published in YES! Weekly on April 20th. This blog post has the story in full and will be continually updated with participating restaurants and contributors as they become known.

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There’s a feeling of community within the culinary circles in Winston-Salem that is unmatched in just about any area city I’ve encountered. There’s just something about it. And it’s very, very evident this week as a group of restaurant owners, chefs, purveyors, and even artisans are coming together to help one of their very own.

Skippy’s Hot Dogs has been a downtown Winston-Salem institution for 14 years. No one else does a dog like Skippy’s. The hot dogs are delicious and what sets them apart is that signature pretzel bun. Growing up in Pennsylvania, twisted pretzels were kind of a normal thing. But owner Mike Rothman wanted to bring those pretzels, which were missing, to Winston-Salem, and he did just that. After a few years of selling pretzels and refining his concept, the hot dog on the twisted pretzel roll became Mike’s thing. And he’s enjoyed success since doing so. Winston-Salem is a hot dog city. And Skippy’s helped put it on the map.

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A couple of months ago, Mike had to close a few times due to health reasons. Then abruptly, the sign said “Closed Until Further Notice.” Now, if you’re a fan of Skippy’s, you know (being selfish) that this is awful news. But it got people wondering, what on earth has happened to our beloved Mike Rothman? And then came the sad announcement that Mike had been diagnosed with brain cancer and would have to close to undergo treatment for glioblastoma. And even if you have insurance, this type of treatment is extensive and expensive and when you run a restaurant and it’s your sole source of income? Disastrous.

Restaurant owners from the downtown area visited Mike during the early stages of his recovery and got the idea to run his restaurant for him while he recuperates. Will Kingery, who own’s King’s Crab Shack, Willow’s Bistro, and Silo said, “ We wanted to manage Skippy’s for him and there were folks actually volunteering to run the business for him while he gets better so he could have an income. We all put ourselves in his shoes. If we lost our income and had huge medical bills, we’d be done. But that’s just not what he wanted. He didn’t want the stress of keeping the business open. And we understand where he’s coming from. … he just wanted to focus on healing. ”

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Photo from the Skippy’s FB page when the fundraiser was just announced

So the group came up with an alternate plan.

“We decided, ‘well, let’s just open it for one more week.’ Kingery added. “As a way to raise some money for him. And Mike got really excited about that idea and jumped on board with it.”

All the proceeds from “Mike’s Week” will go to pay his medical bills, while he fights the good fight.

All kinds of folks, professional and amateur, from the community have stepped in to help. Numerous downtown establishments like Jeff and Adam from Jeffrey Adams on 4th/4th Street Filling Station, Opie Kirby from Finnigans, The Moody’s from West End Coffeehouse, Mozelle’s, DiLisio’s, Rooster’s A Noble Grille, Graze, The Tavern in Old Salem, Spring House Restaurant, Quanto Basta, Camino Bakery, The Porch Kitchen & Cantina, Bib’s, Atelier on Trade, Harrison Littell of Five Loaves Catering, Chef Stuart Ford of Pintxos Pour House and Wild Willie’s Wiener Wagon, Tart Sweets, Kabobs on 4th, and countless others, including Kingery’s eateries. Mary Haglund from Mary’s Gourmet Diner is cooking and handling the catering side of things for the week, while Vivian Joiner from Sweet Potatoes is scheduling the volunteers.

Joiner says, “At least 20 restaurants have said they will step up. It’s such an extraordinary outpouring from all sides of the community from the hospitality industry to just regular people off the street.”

Each day Skippy’s will offer the same menu you’ve been familiar with, though minus the famous pretzel buns. Kingery says, “That was Mike’s thing…he was an expert at that, so we’ll just have some really great split-roll buns.” And each day the chef leading the kitchen will feature a special hot dog of his or her own creation. “It’ll be a different twist on a hot dog…very creative ideas are being thrown out there,” Kingery says. Joiner adds that though their will be a chef leading the kitchen each day, dozens more from other restaurants will be there as line cooks, taking orders or just selling t-shirts.

Food distributors across the area are donating thousands of dollars worth of food, like Southern Foods, US Foods, Sysco, IFH. Pepsi is donating drink products. Tom’s Glass Works is donating a commemorative glass that will be for sale. Hanes Brands has a new spin on a Skippy’s T-shirt that will be available for purchase. Zoom! did all the printing. Dewey’s Bakery has offered to donate cookies to sell. The Winston-Salem Dash donated all the Nathan’s Hot Dogs and its staff has volunteered to pitch in. TW Garner’s Texas Pete and staff members will be there slinging hot dogs as well. And Skippy’s will also be featuring Birch Root Beer from Mike’s home state of Pennsylvania. When the kitchen equipment needed a bit of repair, Carolina Kitchen Repair volunteered to do it. Local advertising agency, Mullen-Lowe is even working on a video to highlight the event. And the list goes on…

Kingery says the group has been overwhelmed by all the support, yet at the same time, he’s not at all surprised. “It’s just Winston-Salem. We work together. If you need help, we are there for you. If you need product, we can call each other and help each other out. That’s just how the Winston-Salem culinary community is. We’re neighbors…really, a team.”

And it’s true. The chefs in Winston-Salem know what collaboration is. And there’s a brotherhood and yes, that includes the women, that is beyond compare. Joiner says, “It’s just a testament to how cool the city we live in really is.”

Chefs/restaurants on the line and featuring a special hot dog will be (subject to change):
Willow’s Bistro/Kings Crab Shack
DiLisio’s along with John Bobby from Rooster’s A Noble Grille
Bib’s Downtown
Mary’s Gourmet Diner
Sweet Potatoes
Finnigan’s Wake
Jeffrey Adams on 4th/4th Street Filling Station
Foothills Brewing
Graze

Kingery adds, “We just want to give a huge thank you to everyone involved. It’s going to be very busy and kind of terrifying at times,” he laughs. “But it will all be worth it in the end. We are just so grateful to everyone who’s involved and continuing to come forward.”

Kingery says after Mike’s Week, sadly, the doors will close on Skippy’s for good…yet….only maybe. “After it’s all over, we’re going to clean the restaurant and all the equipment up. And Skippy’s will be for sale. It’s a great space. It is already set up to be a pretzel factory. It has everything it needs to be a successful business. We don’t expect it to be vacant for long. It really is a diamond.”

As for Mike, who’s 53, family members say they’re taking his recovery one day at a time, but that he’s making great strides and becoming more independent.

I had a chance to speak with Mike’s mom, Harriett, and she was just so sweet and she says she’s very touched.  “He’s a warrior. It’s been an adjustment being here, not only because he has to be in this rehab facility but also because he had to leave his friends.” Mrs. Rothman says that Mike is being positive throughout it all and has been following all the activity on social media. “He misses everyone. He’s starting to reach out to his friends which makes him feel better. He’s just overwhelmed and touched by all the support he’s getting from the community and he tells us, ‘I might not have made a ton of money, but I made wealth in a much more special way…just knowing that people want to do this for me.”

Here’s a picture of a recovering Mike from Skippy’s Facebook page. Be sure to check out the page regularly for updates on Mike and #mikesweek.

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Mike Rothman, owner of Skippy’s

Mrs. Rothman says she’s incredibly proud of her son. “We’re so proud of what he’s accomplished. What’s happening in Winston-Salem is awesome and unbelievable and heartwarming and there aren’t enough words to describe.”

In addition to the benefit of a huge amount of local press, volunteers have taken to social media to help get the word out. Be sure to follow Skippy’s Hot Dogs Facebook page for the latest updates. Mike’s family members have also set up a GoFundMe page. “I couldn’t be more grateful for the restaurant community, volunteers, and people who are going to come out and show support for Mike. I don’t remember if I’ve ever seen a community pull together to support one person quite like this before. This tells me that not only is Mike incredibly special, but so is the Winston-Salem community,” announced his niece, Marissa Goldman, via GoFundMe.

The GoFundMe campaign has so far raised over $15k. Mike’s rehabilitation facility is in PA so that he could be near his parents. If you feel compelled to send a card or note of encouragement, mail to:

Michael Rothman
c/o The Jewish Home of Greater Harrisburg
4000 Linglestown Rd.
Room 117
Harrisburg, PA. 17112

Volunteers are still appreciated to help set up, cook, assist and clean up during the week of the fundraiser and the week following as they prepare the restaurant for sale. If you’d like to get on the schedule, contact Vivian Joiner at Sweet Potatoes at (336) 727-4844.

Joiner says that on Saturday evening, the organizers and volunteers will re-convene for a grand finale. And when I talked with her aboutthat last day….

“We’re being asked what we are going to do….and for me, I’m not going to think about it until it happens. It’s a very touching thing….to close a restaurant. To serve your final plate and lock the doors behind that final guest. It is not an easy thing. So I’ll let that moment play out as it happens.”

Here are the details, foodies!
Mike’s Week at Skippy’s will be Saturday, April 23 to Saturday, April 30. Hours will be 10am to 8pm each day.
Skippy’s Hot Dogs
624 West Fourth Street, Winston-Salem.
Phone: (336) 722-3442.

Be sure to let us know that you are going! Take photos of when you are there. Tweet and Facebook with the hashtag #mikesweek.

Prayers for you, Mike!