Stitches \'n Dishes http://stitchesanddishes.com Get the dish at Stitches \'n Dishes! Sun, 08 Sep 2013 17:44:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.20 From Roots to Wheels Scratch Truck Delivers on Taste http://stitchesanddishes.com/2013/09/from-roots-to-wheels-scratch-truck-delivers-on-taste/ http://stitchesanddishes.com/2013/09/from-roots-to-wheels-scratch-truck-delivers-on-taste/#comments Fri, 06 Sep 2013 19:00:04 +0000 http://stitchesndishes.com/?p=9152 Chef Tim Kilcoyne

“If i haven’t shaken the farmer’s hand personally, I don’t consider it farm to table.” Chef Tim Kilcoyne, Owner, Scratch Food Truck

I recently wrote a review about Hollywood Beach Wine Company in Oxnard, CA where Chef Tim Kilcoyne had been hired to consult on the development of a new menu. I had been to the restaurant on several occasions and had the opportunity to try Tim’s new menu there a couple of times before the restaurant sadly closed its doors. In that article, I mentioned that Tim had launched a Kickstarter project to start a food truck and a bottled ketchup line, and now that Kickstarter project’s been fully funded.

Tim has been operating his new Scratch food truck in Ventura County for about six weeks, bringing the local, seasonal food the Sidecar Restaurant was famous for to the streets of Ventura County, and the reception has been nothing short of extraordinary. Tim is well known in the region as a farm-to-fork pioneer, and his appropriately named, Scratch food truck with its “From Roots to Wheels” concept delivers on his promise to prepare and serve the freshest, locally available ingredients in creative and whimsical gourmet comfort foods.

I met Tim once informally at his SideCar Restaurant in Ventura, California a few months before the lease expired, and he was forced to close. I guess I shouldn’t really say I met him – I just told him I loved the grilled Brussel sprouts, really. And I did.

Scratch will be part educational, holding monthly farm meals at various Ventura County farms, part community builder with its monthly grilled cheese jazz nights, supporting local talent, and part community support, offering sandwiches, salads and bowls at local farmers markets using ingredients from the markets themselves.

“We are taking the same concept as the SideCar, supporting local farms in Ventura,” Tim said. “People viewed SideCar as a fine dining restaurant, but that’s not what we wanted. We’re supporting local farms and keeping it affordable, approachable, and accessible.”

IMG_6960I heard Tim was serving lunch at the Channel Islands Harbor Farmers’ Market in Oxnard, CA on Sunday, and we’ve had great weather this Summer. So I headed off to the Farmers’ Market where a dinner was inspired, and then later preempted by a telephone call from Paula Deen, which you can read about here on the blog. You can read about the London broil with orange cauliflower puree, and grilled kale and beets that was inspired by my visit to the Farmers’ Market and lunch at Scratch here on the blog, as well.

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The minimalist, monochromatic farm artwork emblazoned on the side of the Scratch Food Truck tells a story of Tim’s past and his passion for the farm to table relationship. He was raised on a farm in California, attended culinary school in Portland, Oregon, and sourcing his produce from local growers is the core of his philosophy. Tim’s worked at renown restaurants like Louise’s Trattoria in Los Angeles, and Cafe Melisse in Valencia, and he was even a cook at Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion.

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“Next month will be our first farm meal in Ventura County,” Tim said. “We’re in the middle of putting together a launch party for our backers on the Kickstarter.” Tim’s already booked for events at UCLA, Big Bear and possibly San Luis Obispo, and he’s quickly moving forward in his ketchup bottling operation. “We’ll have the ketchup bottle in the next week or two,” he said. “We always made our own ketchup in house at the restaurant. For years people have asked if we’d bottle it. We looked into the process, and had a batch tested at UC Davis then received our approval recently. We’re working on pickling items, jams and other sauces to continue adding on. The first ketchup should be available by the end of the month, and will be on the shelves at Whole Foods at some point in the future.”

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For nearly eight years, Tim hosted a grilled cheese and jazz night once a month at his SideCar Restaurant, and he plans to continue the tradition. “We decided to open up one Tuesday night every month and make it about the music. We kept it simple with a grilled cheese sandwich and local jazz entertainers. We’re doing one next Tuesday at Surf Brewing Company in Ventura from 6:00 pm until 8:30 pm with a local jazz band,” Tim told me.

The SideCar was the first restaurant in the region to offer farm-to-table dishes and mention local growers by name on the menu, and the day I visited Scratch, it was no different. The menu on the food truck included a list of a dozen local farmers Tim purchased ingredients from for the day’s service. “We’ve built relationships with so many farms over the years, so we really want to be at the farmers markets where they’re at,” Tim said.

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With 2,500 farms on nearly 350,000 acres of farmland, Tim doesn’t have far to go to find the best produce in the state. Thanks to its temperate climate, Ventura County produces crops year-round. Farmers involved in vegetable and berry production typically plant and harvest multiple crops each year. Orchard crops ripen and are harvested for many months at a time.

California is the number one state in cash farm receipts with 11.6 percent of the US total. The state produces nearly half of US-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables. Across the nation, US consumers regularly purchase several crops produced solely in California.

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I started my lunch with an appetizer of incredibly juicy and perfectly sweet Marinated Cherry Tomatoes tossed in olive oil, balsamic, and basil. Tim told me that he had bought them in the morning right after they had been picked at the farm.

“There are some restaurants who use the term “farm to fork” on their menus, but it might be one plate or a few ingredients. It’s a marketing strategy now for many,” he said.

Southern California is world-renowned in culinary innovation and five-star dining, so farm-to-fork isn’t a new concept. Many of the restaurants in the region have supported local businesses long before it was given a trendy name. But even not-so-popular cities like Sacramento are throwing their hats into the ring, using farm-to-fork as a slogan to entice tourists.
IMG_6999In October, 2012 the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau spent three weeks talking to area farmers, chefs, produce suppliers, politicians and others in the farm-to-fork food industry, and proclaimed itself, “America’s Farm to Fork Capital,” boasting that there are more than 7,000 farms in a “six-county” region and 1.5 million acres of farmland. It goes on to give itself accolades for being home to 40 farmers markets, two James Beard Foundation winners (2012) and five restaurants with “Zagat’s highest food scores” (2011). Sacramento has not been included in the cities that Zagat covers for nearly two years.

Not so fast, Sacramento. This year, no restaurants were nominated for a James Beard award in Sacramento, but Frank Fat’s on L Street in Sacramento won the America’s Classics Award. Meanwhile, it would appear that James Beard left his heart in San Francisco, one of the most visited cities in the world, where 13 nominations and at least three awards were bestowed.

“The local food movement has been a long time coming  from fringe land worshippers to grocery store chains that now tout the phrase “farm-to-fork” in ads,” says Elaine Corn, an award- winning cookbook author and former newspaper food editor. Elaine reports about food for Capital Public Radio, 90.9 FM in Sacramento, and contributes to the Sacramento Bee. “It’s impossible to be all local, all the time, even in Sacramento. Any restaurant that bills itself as a farm-to-fork restaurant is working percentages.”

In Tim’s case, a very high percentage of his ingredients are actually local. For my first course, I went straight for the pork with Tim’s Smoked Pork PB&J made with Niman Ranch smoked pork, chipotle peanut butter from Handsome Carver’s Peanut Butter, jam from Katie’s Famous Jams and white cheddar.

Niman Ranch is well known for its pork, which is a cross of four breeds resulting in well marbled pork that is unbelievably moist, tender and juicy with a signature flavor profile Niman’s known for. The rich smoky flavor of the pork balances nicely with the peppery, sweet flavor profile of Handsome Carver’s Peanut Butter. Surprisingly, the peanut wasn’t overbearing at all. The chipotle powder prevailed and was enhanced by paprika and onion, producing a finish with an attitude.

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Karen Ross, Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture says that she’d like to attract more tourists to Sacramento using the farm-to-fork movement. “Last year over $100 billion dollars were spent by people visiting different parts of California,” Ross proclaimed in a 16 minute video, dishing out the reasons Sacramento is the farm-to-fork capital. “Almost $25 billion of that was spent on food and wine, so I have a big interest in what’s happening with tourism.”

In the same video, Sonya Bradley, Chief Marketing Officer, Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau says “[farm to fork] just makes for a great dimension for the area. So we absolutely love to use it in our messaging… ad campaigns… it’s all part of the fabric of the marketing message in Sacramento.”

For chefs like Tim Kilcoyne, it’s about the food, building relationships, community and tradition. Tim feels that at least half of the ingredients on a plate should be local to consider it “farm-to-fork,” and they should come from no more than a 100 mile radius. “I’d love to be able to source things within 25 miles, but with different climates, it’s hard to do that depending on the time of year.”

The duck on Tim’s menu caught my eye, and I rarely pass an opportunity to enjoy a good Banh Mi sandwich. Only this time, it wasn’t a typical Banh Mi sandwich at all; it was a Banh Mi-Rito (Banh Mi burRito) made with braised duck from Mary’s Organic Duck, pickled carrots, cucumbers, cabbage, cilantro, and sriracha crema.

Mary’s Free-Range Ducks are produced by Pitman Farms, Mary Pitman’s family owned business that has been raising poultry for three generations. Free-range duck just tastes better, in my opinion. The moist, fall-apart meat combined with fresh produce produced a tangy flavor explosion and a sriracha kick with every crunch. I loved that it was creatively wrapped in a tortilla rather than placed in a traditional baguette, allowing me to really focus my attention on the filling.

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I absolutely love the Channel Islands Harbor Farmers’ Market where fishing boats sell the catch of the morning on the docks directly to the public at the farmers’ market.

I finished the final course with a Local Seabass Taco made with local black seabass from Fresh Fish Fanatics, cabbage, cilantro and chipotle crema, and Street Corn made with lime butter, Parmesan cheese, chipotle crema and chili.

Fresh Fish Fanatics is a family owned business in Ventura County that catches and sells fish directly from their boats to the public at harbor locations the same day.

The black sea bass was perfect for a street taco. With its mild flavor, the white flesh of Sea bass is excellent for anything from tacos to salads, and it has a sweetness that makes it ideal for Asian inspired dishes, as well.

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The grilled, soft, juicy sweet Street Corn is Tim’s interpretation of “elotés,” a Mexican treat of roasted or grilled corn on the cob slathered in butter and mayonnaise, rolled in queso fresco (a crumbly Mexican cheese), and then sprinkled with cayenne pepper or ground chili powder to taste. Tim’s rendition really brings out the sweet corn flavor and makes it the star, not to mention it’s not a soupy mess like its Mexican inspiration. It was the perfect pairing for my Sea Bass Taco.

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“We’ve done a lot over the years, like the farm dinners. Originally it was in the restaurant using one featured farmer. We invited the farmer in for a meet n greet with customers, then we did some out in the farms and local events,” Tim told me.

There isn’t any real criteria by which to measure any region’s farm-to-fork-itude really, but any map can tell you that America’s Farm to Fork Capital isn’t Sacramento. According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the Sacramento Valley District actually encompasses nine counties, including Sacramento, Tehama, Glenn, Butte, Yuba, Colusa, Sutter, Yolo, and Solano, and the behemoth, Southern California District at four times the size of the Sacramento Valley District, encompasses eight counties, including Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, Imperial and the state’s largest county, San Bernardino.

There are approximately 175 certified farmers’ markets in four Southern California counties, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles alone.

“Going local can cost more,” says Rudy Balch, Executive Chef and Co-Owner at Fuzion Eatz, a Sacramento based food truck specializing in Mediterranean and middle eastern flavors. “I like to go Organic whenever possible as well as Local. The nice thing being here in the Sacramento Valley is all of the farmers markets. We should all aim for 100% local and Organic,” Rudy continued. “Food is just better in my opinion when it is organic. For a small establishment with qualified kitchen staff, it can be fun and pretty easy to run down to the farmers market and put the team together and create fun delicious healthy food.”

Sharing Tim’s philosophy for locally grown ingredients, Rudy and business partner, Jeremy Lopez are pioneering a flavor revolution of their own in the Sacramento region, which is in desperate need of a culinary infusion. The two are serving up gourmet wraps, rolls and bowls, along with house-made sauces and toppings, and freshly baked cookies. Standing light years above in the Sacramento Valley District, Like Tim, Rudy and Jeremy focus on building relationships and promoting local businesses, rather than simply tacking on a “Farm-to-Fork” label, and calling it “marketing.”

Tim wasn’t aware that any contender had thrown its hat into the Farm-to-Fork ring, laying claim to a non-existent title, but I asked him where the ideal location for a Farm-to-Fork business is in the U.S. today. “People talk about California having the perfect climate for year-round produce,” Tim says. “In Portland, Oregon though, within 100 miles, you can get tons of amazing cheeses, sea salt, oil, produce, duck, chicken, lamb, beef and anything else you can imagine. There’s so much more available there. California’s had challenges,” he continues. “We had such a hard time getting the grass fed beef here… just getting the approval to process the meat.

So while cities like Sacramento attempt to place themselves on some culinary tourist map, Tim Kilcoyne is blazing trails, educating the public, and bringing people together… without the silly labels, marketing slogans, or the need for a title.

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Grilled London Broil with Orange Cauliflower, Kale and Beets http://stitchesanddishes.com/2013/09/grilled-london-broil-with-orange-cauliflower-kale-and-beets/ http://stitchesanddishes.com/2013/09/grilled-london-broil-with-orange-cauliflower-kale-and-beets/#comments Thu, 05 Sep 2013 18:59:25 +0000 http://stitchesndishes.com/?p=9139 IMG_6973

Visiting a farmers’ market always inspires me to get into the kitchen. I spend most of my dining time (and money) eating out – oh the perils of being a food critic! But, last Sunday, we kicked off the tail-end of Summer with a trip to the Channel Islands Harbor Farmers’ Market in Oxnard, California where I not only scored some incredible produce, cheese, seafood and beef, but had an incredible lunch at the Scratch food truck that was conveniently parked at the market. Read what I had to say about Scratch and what Chef / Owner Tim Kilcoyne thinks about cooking and eating the farm-to-table way here.

Farm-to-Table (also known as farm-to-fork) is easy to do at home, when you’ve got access to farmers’ markets like we have here in California. The Golden State is pretty much one very large farm, spanning about a thousand miles, so I’d say we’re spoiled here.

I plotted and I planned, and expected to make a phenomenal dinner on Tuesday, but those plans were preempted by a call from Paula Deen that lasted a lot longer than either of us expected. You can read more about that surprise call here.

I’ve mistakenly told everyone that I made this London Broil with Niman Ranch beef, which I’ve always favored, but it’s actually Novy Ranches grass-fed beef. I just discovered this ranch recently at the farmers’ market, and gave them a try. So far, what I’ve seen and tasted have actually been superior to Niman. According to their website, “the ranches are the ongoing  life work  and commitment of Dr. Lowell Novy, a veterinarian, whose interests in conservation, cattle-ranching and animal welfare have influenced his decision to turn away from “traditional” feedlot cattle production by developing an entirely grass-fed  program that is healthy for the land, cows and people.” Novy dry ages their beef so it’s incredibly tender and flavorful.

Another note, grass-fed beef is much leaner than grain fed meat and thus, is less forgiving of overcooking. The unsaturated fats in grass-fed meat melt at lower temperatures and more quickly than the saturated fats of grain fed cuts. A rule of thumb is that grass-fed beef needs about 30% less cooking than conventional beef. I always aim to cook to medium rare, but I only achieve that about 70% of the time. I usually overcook more than under. Timing is everything, and grass-fed beef cooks faster than grain fed both on the grill and while it’s resting.

prepI paired the beef up with an orange cauliflower, which basically looks and tastes like a slightly sweet white cauliflower, and it has more vitamin A. I made a creamy puree with the cauliflower (the perfect replacement for mashed potatoes, keeping it low-carb), some Parmesan cheese, garlic, pepper and a little chicken base. Then, I marinated and grilled some kale and beets and served them on the side. It all came together in about 20 – 25 minutes, but there was prep time, too. I marinated the beef for around six hours and the beets for an hour before grilling it all up. So I made the marinades earlier in the day. A few minutes before dinner, I mixed up a strawberry / blueberry sangria with $10 bottle of La Vieille Ferme Rose’ wine, some blueberry lemonade, ginger ale, a little sugar and fresh sliced strawberries to go with it. It just takes a few minutes to stir it up in a pitcher, and it provides a refreshing whimsy and lightness to the meal, I think.

Marinate the London Broil

Ingredients

5 large garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon honey
1 1/2 pounds top-round London broil

Directions

Mince the garlic to a paste, then place in a blender.

Add salt, red wine, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and honey to the blender, and blend thoroughly.

Place the London broil into a Ziplock bag, then pour the marinade into the bag. Push the air out of the bag, and seal it. Put it in a shallow baking dish, and allow it to marinate for at least 6 hours. I prefer to marinate meats on the counter top.

Marinate the Beets

About two hours before serving time, prepare and marinate the beets.

Ingredients

6 large whole beets
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dry thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon dry basil leaves
1/8 teaspoon dry oregano
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 cup vegetable oil

Directions

Cut the leaves from the tops of the beets then put them in a large sauce pan. Fill the pot with cold water, completely covering the beets.

Bring the water to a boil then let the beets simmer for 10 – 15 minutes or until a knife will slide through easily.

While the beets are simmering, combine all ingredients in a large bowl or baking dish. Mix well and add vegetable oil.

Strain the beets in a colander under cold running water, then let them cool for about 15 – 20 minutes.

While running under water, rub beets with towel to remove skin.

Slice beets into 1/2-inch rounds, and place into the marinade.

Toss sliced beets then let them marinate in the refrigerator for an hour.

Prepare the Orange Cauliflower Puree

Prepare the orange cauliflower puree about 30 minutes before removing the beets and beef from their marinades.

Ingredients

1 medium head cauliflower
1 tablespoon cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/8 teaspoon straight chicken base or bullion (may substitute 1/2 teaspoon salt)
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Set a stockpot of water to boil over high heat.

Clean and cut cauliflower into small pieces.

Boil the cauliflower for about 6 – 10 minutes, or until well done.

Drain well then immediately place the cauliflower in between layers of paper towels and gently pat them dry.

Puree the hot cauliflower with the cream cheese, Parmesan, garlic, chicken base, and pepper until smooth in a food processor.

Keep covered until served.

Grill the Beef and Vegetables

grilled vegetables

Preheat the grill to high.

Remove the London broil from the Ziplock bag, and grill 5 – 7 minutes on each side for medium-rare.

Transfer steak to a cutting board and let stand 5 – 7 minutes.

Lay the marinated beets on the grill, and grill for 2 – 3 minutes.

Brush the beets with marinade then turn them over and grill for another 2 – 3 minutes.

Place the grilled beets into a large bowl, and toss with a splash of the marinade if desired.

Prepare the Kale Marinade

Ingredients

3/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 bunches kale, washed and spun dry
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, vinegar, zest and juice of lemon and kale.

Season with salt and pepper and gently toss until the kale is evenly coated.

Carefully lay the kale side-by-side in a single layer on top of the grill and grill about 2 minutes or until crispy.

Turn over and grill on the other side for another 1-2 minutes.

Lay the kale out in a pile on a serving platter or board.

Mix the Sangria

sangria

Ingredients

1 Bottle (750 ml) of Rosé wine
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups blueberry lemonade
1 cup sliced strawberries
2 cups ginger ale

Directions

Pour wine in a pitcher and add sliced strawberries.

Next add sugar, blueberry lemonade, ginger ale and stir gently.

To serve, fill a tall glass about halfway with ice, then pour the sangria over it. Scoop in some sliced strawberries.

Plating

london-broil-platedHolding a knife at a 45-degree angle, cut the steak across the grain into thin slices.

Scoop about 3/4 cup of the orange cauliflower puree onto the center of the plate and flatten.

Place four slices of the London broil on top of the puree.

Lay six kale leaves beside the London broil, then place 4 – 6 slices of beets on top of the kale.

london-broil-sangria-dining

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How I Missed Dinner and Kept Paula Deen Up Past Her Bed Time http://stitchesanddishes.com/2013/09/how-i-missed-dinner-and-kept-paula-deen-up-passed-her-bed-time/ http://stitchesanddishes.com/2013/09/how-i-missed-dinner-and-kept-paula-deen-up-passed-her-bed-time/#comments Wed, 04 Sep 2013 18:49:58 +0000 http://stitchesndishes.com/?p=9133 chris-and-paulaNot even 30 minutes after my interview with Chef Tim Kilcoyne, owner of the Scratch food truck, my phone rang; the display read, BLOCKED. It was 6:30 p.m. PST, and I was outside on the patio, relaxing after the one hour call with Tim, and mentally preparing my dinner. I’ve been planning to grill a London broil this week, and had come up with a few recipes for last night’s dinner. I contemplated letting the call go to voice mail, but was curious; I never receive calls from blocked numbers. Little did I know that call would completely derail my dinner plans altogether.

I heard the familiar sound of voices, then a woman’s voice, in a Southern twang, “Is this Chris? Chris Ford?”

This must be a telemarketer, I thought immediately. Instinctively, I looked back at the display and thought I’d just hang up. Then I thought I’d see what she was trying to sell. Why not? I was just relaxing anyway, and it could be an entertaining distraction. So, I said, “Yes. This is Chris,” and what happened next exceeded any expectation of entertainment value.

“Well, it’s Paula… It’s Paula Deen calling!”

I was surprised, to say the least. I still couldn’t believe I received a call from a blocked number! OK, just kidding. “Surprised” doesn’t even come close to describing it. I certainly wasn’t expecting a call from Paula, while I was relaxing on the patio on a Tuesday evening.

“Chris, my family and I will never forget for as long as we live what y’all have done for us,” she said. “We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.” Then I thought, wow, I’m just relaxing on my patio, talking to Paula Deen!

For the next hour and a half, we talked like old friends, catching up. After a little more than an hour, Paula realized how long we had been talking, and apologized for keeping me so long. She probably also realized that she met her match in the gift of gab. It took us the next half hour to say goodbye.

We talked about everything from cookware to BBQ sauces and, of course, butter. Paula says that her Sweet Citrus Zest Butter “will knock the pajamas right off of you in the morning.” We talked about Texas and Savannah, and the upcoming Metropolitan Cooking and Entertainment Show in Houston then Dallas this month, cooking competitions, The Bag Lady Foundation, reality TV, restaurants, MasterChef, family, Jamie’s new cookbook, her new puppy, peacocks, iPads, Facebook and just about everything in between, all while her brother, Bubba snacked on a turkey drumstick with a little too much pepper in the background. And I congratulated her on her magazine’s, Cooking with Paula Deen huge success in being voted the Hottest Food Magazine on Ad Week’s Hot List Poll. Yes, we even talked about butter wrappers.

Hoffman Media, the publisher for Cooking with Paula Deen has stood by Paula throughout the controversy that surrounded her this summer. Paula said she feels spoiled by her loyal supporters and was thrilled to see that Cooking with Paula Deen had won nearly 50% of the votes in the poll.

At some points during the conversation, I laughed so hard, there were tears in my eyes and I felt that I’ve known her all my life. Paula never saw herself as a celebrity or a star, and she really didn’t know what it was that her fans loved so much about her. “I think I remind people of someone they love,” she told me. “At least, that’s how I like to think of it.”

What stood out to me was that Paula is clearly well on her way to going back to being Paula. She said, “It’s all behind me now, and I’m getting back to doing what I love.” She’s excited about the upcoming Metro Cooking Show in Texas this month. She told me how much she loves Texas and the people there. “Yes, you do have a ton of fans in Texas, Paula,” I said.

“I really wouldn’t call them fans, Chris. They’re friends… friends I haven’t met yet. I really feel that way,” she told me. I have no doubt that’s precisely how she feels. The once young, determined single-mom who worked tirelessly and became a household name is still a Southern Lady. She’s still determined to dedicate herself to helping the less fortunate, and has tremendous aspirations for The Bag Lady Foundation. Throughout this challenging period in Paula’s life, she said that her faith hasn’t wavered. ”Through all of this, my faith has not wavered one drop – not one drop,” she told me.

Then she said, “I know that God has this in His control and one day, He’ll reveal to me what I’m supposed to do. He didn’t take me this far to cast me from His arms, and that’s the one thing I know for sure.” What’s most important to Paula is having her friends and family around her, but she told me that she has an unmeasurable gratitude for her fans… I mean, the friends she hasn’t met yet. “I will never, ever, ever be able to convey what I feel for my friends I have not yet met. And they give me the strength to get up every day.”

She told me that she checks in on the We Support Paula Deen, Couponing for PaulaStitches ‘n Dishes Facebook pages, and reads our blogs daily. “Bubba and I, and Michael, Bobby, Jamie and the entire family can’t thank you and all of our friends enough,” she said. “I read the letters, and it gives me strength. We appreciate everyone and the support so much. More than any words can describe,” she told me.

That’s the one thing Paula asked of me. She said if I wanted to post something about our conversation, let it be her and her family’s gratitude for all the support and love people from all walks of life across the country have given over the last few months. Nothing was more important than expressing her appreciation.

Throughout that 96 minute call, and all the varied topics we talked about, we always came back to people – friends and family – and how important they are to Paula. It was friends and family who were there for her when she started her first business, The Bag Lady, and they’re with her to this day. It’s friends and family that she’s most grateful for in her life, and it became evident to me that she wouldn’t trade them for the world. You can take the endorsements, the contracts, the product lines, and the TV shows away from Paula Deen, but you’ll never get her to part with her family, friends, and even the friends she hasn’t met yet.

Since July, the “friends Paula hasn’t met yet” (AKA devoted fans) have sent empty butter wrappers to the companies that severed ties with her this year. To date, an estimated 35,000 – 40,000 people across the country have sent the slippery parcels through the mail – many regularly collecting and mailing the wrappers. The Butter for Paula website continues to encourage supporters to send wrappers, participate in social media discussions and sharing on Facebook and Twitter, and support businesses that sell her products. The We Support Paula Deen Facebook page has swelled to nearly 612,000 fans, and continues to grow while Paula maintains strong ratings in media.

Unfortunately, Food Network whose viewer numbers have significantly dropped this summer, Walmart with plummeting earnings reports, Target who’s facing a racial discrimination lawsuit, and a certain Atlanta attorney who will soon face sanction can’t say the same. And while Paula may have turned down an invitation to be a contestant on Dancing with the Stars, her popularity in viewer polls has soared, and the magazine has 27,000 new subscribers. Most importantly, as Paula says with a smile in her voice, “I’m feeling good.”

Now, it’s time to get into the kitchen. I’ve still got a London Broil to grill.

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Fundraiser Letter from GAO Steams Parents Over Paula Deen http://stitchesanddishes.com/2013/08/fundraiser-letter-from-gao-steams-parents-over-paula-deen/ http://stitchesanddishes.com/2013/08/fundraiser-letter-from-gao-steams-parents-over-paula-deen/#comments Sun, 18 Aug 2013 20:12:53 +0000 http://stitchesndishes.com/?p=9093 August 16th 9:03 a.m.

“I am on the phone right now with Customer Service for Great American Opportunities, Inc. Their Facebook Page has been removed and the customer service rep is transferring me to her Supervisor …”

Julie Palmer frantically wrote on the We Support Paula Deen Facebook fan page from her home in Minnesota.

August 15th 6:04 p.m.

wesupportpauladeen

Just 15 hours prior to Palmer’s comment, page administrators of the popular fan page, boasting over 612,000 “likes” posted a photo of a letter that prompted thousands of Paula Deen supporters to flood the Facebook page of Great American Opportunities, Inc. (GAO), a for-profit fundraising company for schools and charitable organizations, on Thursday evening with comments, ultimately causing GAO to delete the page all together by Friday morning.

Thursday started off like any other day for Tamara Holley Campbell of Grovetown, Georgia. She packed her four boys up and sent them off to school. When they returned home on Thursday afternoon with the school’s annual fundraiser packets from their elementary school in their backpacks, she found something she wasn’t expecting. Little did she know, her discovery would reach 330,000 people a few hours later.

“It came across that they were apologizing for having Paula Deen in their catalog,” Campbell said as she described the very odd letter inserted into the Great American Opportunities fundraiser catalog. Printed on plain white paper, the letter, signed by Great American Opportunities, Inc.  refers to the racial discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuit that was filed against Paula Deen and her brother, Earl “Bubba” Hiers last year, and subsequently dismissed on a lack of legal merit last week, and goes on to explain that the company felt it would be wasteful to discard the catalogs.

greatamerican

“It came across that they were apologizing for having Paula Deen in their catalog…” ~ Tamara Holley Campbell, Grovetown, Georgia

With a Sales Force of Children

Great American Opportunities, Inc. is an independent operating subsidiary of Southwestern/Great American, Inc., which is headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, and offers fund raising services for non-profit groups. The company’s website claims that it has helped raise over $5 billion for schools and non-profit organizations since 1975, and employs over 400 employees who primarily work from home.

kids money square

According to Wikipedia, since 1982, Southwestern has partnered with, acquired or established companies around the world for a total of 10 companies within the corporate family as of 2013. These companies’ services range from fundraising to consulting to financial services to executive search and real estate with more than $425 million in annual revenues.

A Community that Cares

Grovetown, Georgia is part of the Augusta, Georgia metropolitan area as well as the Central Savannah River Area with a population of approximately 13,000 people. The town prides itself on maintaining its family-friendly atmosphere, quality schools, and small town simplicity while offering the amenities of a 21st century city and remaining steeped in tradition while embracing the future.

Its combination of country charm and modern amenities serves as the basis for why Grovetown proclaims itself as “A Community that Cares.”

The Power of Social Media, Y’all!

Switchboard-Operators

Campbell, a dedicated Paula Deen fan, found the letter from GAO offensive. “I was pretty shocked,” she said. She snapped a photo of the letter and sent it in a message to the We Support Paula Deen Facebook page.

Part national protest, part fundraiser, and part fan club, the We Support Paula Deen Facebook page was launched in June by John Schmitt after reports that Deen admitted in a court deposition that she used the “N-word” nearly 30 years ago, causing her culinary empire to crumble.

Page administrators posted the photo of the letter on Thursday evening at 6:04 p.m. Within a few hours, the GAO Facebook page was bombarded with over 1,000 comments and recommendations from outraged Paula Deen fans.

Deen supporters in Louisiana, Georgia, Tennessee, Minnesota  and Florida chimed in on the very heated discussion that ultimately derailed the company’s Facebook presence… at least one of its many accounts.

Fans in the five states said in comments that they too had received the same letter, and did not understand its intent. The letter does not specifically state that Paula Deen products are not available, but fans found it distasteful and inappropriate.

Paula Deen fans who support the We Support Paula Deen Facebook page strongly believe in certain principles that they feel Deen exemplifies. Their loyalty is based in their respect for Deen’s integrity, her honesty, good will and charity. The letter is an insult to these traits that unite them.

GAO deleted its Facebook page in response to the firestorm of comments. Julie Palmer in Minnesota resorted to the company’s customer service telephone number. She spoke with a supervisor who admitted that the company is providing the letter as an optional insert to schools and organizations. Palmer posted on the We Support Paula Deen Facebook page:

“[GAO does] in fact support Paula Deen and her products, and will continue to have her products available in their catalogs… they have given the choice to the individual school systems, churches, communities, whoever is doing the fundraising, as to whether they want to do a letter or insert…”

A representative from Paula Deen Foods provided a statement to the We Support Paula Deen Facebook page:

“Great American Opportunities is a fundraising company that serves thousands of schools. They have not ended their relationship with Paula Deen, but must allow schools to make the choice as to which products they sell. Please continue to support your local schools in their fundraisers, as they are very important and needed. GAO has maintained their agreement with Paula even through these tough times, and we are very grateful and appreciative. Many thanks to those that continue to stand by Paula, and for your unwavering support.”

Rob Corley at Great American Opportunities, Inc. said that the company heard the feedback from Deen supporters and is reviewing and considering whether or not it will continue to include a letter at all.

“After feedback received, Great American is reviewing the note carefully. In addition, we are considering discontinuation of inclusion of a note directly from the company.”

Great American Opportunities made this statement in response to the backlash:

Great American Opportunities is saddened by the recent post on social media sites that suggested we have tried to hurt Paula Deen and are attempting to prevent people from ordering her products. We truly believe that there is a misunderstanding of our position.

As a service provider of programs who assists schools and groups in their fundraising campaigns, we must allow every school to make the decision as to whether or not they wish to include our brochures with licensed products from Paula Deen in their fundraising campaigns; We ARE giving our customers that choice.

Some schools have requested a note in the packet that includes the brochure indicating why products are there. Some have indicated that they will only sell the brochure with the Paula Deen products if the note is included in the packet that goes home. The note is ONLY used if requested by a school. 

Each school makes the decision on how they will participate on behalf of their parents and supporters. Just as with any of our other products, any Paula Deen items that are ordered from our catalogs will be fulfilled and will carry our 100% Customer Satisfaction Guarantee.

We appreciate your concern, and hope you will always support students and schools as these fundraising campaigns are critical to their many needs.

The general response from fans has been indecisive, at best. While fans want to support Deen, many do not agree with Paula Deen Foods’ position. They’re faced with a dilemma. Would it be a betrayal to Paula Deen to refuse to support GAO?

What’s a Paula Deen Supporter to Do?

It’s simple. Say no to fundraisers. Well, not all fundraisers, but the fundraisers that sell products through fundraising companies would be a good start. These fundraisers can provide crucial funding where no other funding is available. They can provide access to critical resources and tools for schools. But, product sales fundraisers aren’t the only way.

Rather than spend $25 on an item in a catalog, leaving only $10-$12 for the school and the rest in the company’s pocket, just write a check for $25 to the PTA and give the full benefit of your hard-earned money to your kids’ education rather than a company that uses them as salesmen.

A parent who receives this letter or one like it might consider sending a copy of the letter along with a donation to the PTA, rather than ordering from the catalog.

assemblyCatalog fundraising companies often disrupt education activities with orientation assemblies, campaign updates and even training sessions. Rather than spend time learning something like math, US history, or science, kids are corralled into auditoriums to listen to the motivating fundraising pitch, complete with prize “incentives.” Then, throughout the few weeks, they’ll spend time focused on their sales rather than their homework, tomorrow’s math quiz, or spending time with the family.

Every vacant space on every wall at the schools will be plastered with product ads, posters and goal charts. According to the Frequently Asked Questions on the GAO website, “it’s called promotion. When a new movie comes out, you’ll see the ads, the posters, the displays and all types of advance promotion. Borrowing from that idea, Great American knows you’ll ALL (you included) get “into it” if you make a big deal about it.”

GAO even acknowledges that in general, kids participate unwillingly.

“Most students do not like to participate in fundraisers, that’s a fact. But Great American offers the best products, the best prizes, a motivational video tape and a professional fundraising consultant…” – Great American Opportunities, Inc.

The Yacolt Primary School PTA in Yacolt, Washington cut catalog sales fundraisers from its programs entirely in 2009. “Not only was concern expressed about the safety of our children, but is it really appropriate to ask our kids to solicit money for schools?” a PTA representative said. “We believe that many families would rather not support fundraisers that ask children to sell a product (cookie dough, magazines, catalogues). The number of kids participating in the Yacolt/Amboy fundraisers, and profit to the schools, have both been declining in recent years.”

All That Glitters is Not Gold

Janet Hinz at HuffPost Politics – Politics Daily says that car washes and bake sales aren’t cutting it anymore. “The most popular fundraisers sell products, many of them of questionable value. Shockingly, schools (and other nonprofits) only get 20 percent to 50 percent of profits from these sales. Most of the money goes to the fundraising company itself, which makes the case that children involved in these efforts benefit from boosted self-esteem, a sense of teamwork, and even an enhanced résumé. Even if that were so, I wouldn’t want the trade-off of seeing my preteens selling goods door-to-door.” She also encourages parents to skip supporting a catalog fundraiser, and to opt for direct donations to the PTA.

childrens-safety

“It also safeguards important relationships and allows your family to focus on other activities like school work, athletics or just spending time together,” she concludes.

“And there are terrible sales schemes, which raise some money for schools, but do more to pad the bottom line of the companies marketing cheap goods,” ~ Katherine Wertheim, CFRE, a professional fundraiser in Ventura, California

Wertheim recommends avoiding product sales and restaurant fundraisers at all cost, and consider alternatives such as, silent auctions, local business sponsorships, and walkathons.

Crowdfunding is fast becoming one of the most effective funding methods in the country. Websites like FundAnything allow people to create fundraising campaigns for any purpose. It uses social media to rapidly broadcast a campaign with exposure to a wide audience. While creating a campaign on the website is very simple, a successful campaign is dependent on social connections. You don’t necessarily need a large number of friends or fans on Facebook and Twitter, but social media experience and savvy are critical to success.

A social media crowdfunding campaign could be promoted in addition to a fundraising activity like carwashes, dinners, performances, raffles, etc., and is a great way to expand a PTA’s interactions with parents into social media. The best part, donations are transacted immediately into PayPal, less a 4-9% fee.

What’s the Bottom Line?

Wertheim sums it up best, “I think the parents need to go to principals and say, ‘There will be no more product sales to our children, and no more catalogs. Tell us what you need and make the case why you need it. We will make the case to other people why we need it. We don’t mind walkathons, but you are not going to have our students taken out of class to view a presentation by a corporation that is going to make at least 50% on the dollar from kids selling their schlocky products.’”

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Chef Tim Kilcoyne Hones Hollywood Beach Wine Company http://stitchesanddishes.com/2013/07/chef-tim-kilcoyne-hones-hollywood-beach-wine-company/ http://stitchesanddishes.com/2013/07/chef-tim-kilcoyne-hones-hollywood-beach-wine-company/#comments Tue, 23 Jul 2013 02:56:42 +0000 http://stitchesndishes.com/?p=9064 photo7

Lois Ivanoff, owner / operator of the Hollywood Beach Wine Company in Oxnard, California opened her wine bar/bistro in late 2012 then prodded along the same bumpy path we’d expect in any new restaurant. It’s had its ups and downs, and a few less than stellar reviews on Yelp after a very strong opening, so Lois made some changes. She consulted with Tim Kilcoyne, Chef’s Collaborative’s 2012 Sustainer Award nominee, and former owner of the famous Sidecar Restaurant and The Local Cafe in Ventura, California.

sidecare feature image

Sidecar Restaurant, Ventura, California

When it opened on November 11, 2003, The SideCar was the first restaurant in the region to offer farm-to-table fare via a menu that mentioned local growers by name. In June 2009, Tim was the featured chef for the first Outstanding in the Field dinner to take place in Ventura County. The menu of local snapper with beets and grilled pork belly with turnips was cooked amid the crops at McGrath Family Farm in Camarillo, California.

sidecar dining experience

(left to right, top to bottom) Deviled eggs / Chimichirri with onion rings / Apple cider glazed pork tenderloin, with a spicy sweet potato purée / Fried brussel sprouts with bacon aioli / Budino – Italian pudding. Thick and creamy with Carmel and whipped cream / Lemon lime panna cotta at the Sidecar Restaurant, Ventura, California

Ventura is emerging as America’s next great local food hub, and no chef has played a bigger role in that emergence than Tim Kilcoyne of The Sidecar Restaurant. Lois hired Tim to consult with The Hollywood Beach Wine Company on a new menu. The two worked together for several months before finalizing a solid menu. I’ve visited the Hollywood Beach Wine Company on five occasions – four times with the old menu, and once recently to try Tim’s new menu.

hollywood beach wine company

A relaxing atmosphere, the Hollywood Beach Wine Company boasts the masculine hallmarks of Old World design elements throughout the interior of the restaurant. Once you’re inside, you’re greeted by a comfortable, broken-in look and feel of textured walls, tumbled marble, and distressed, matte and honed finishes. It’s a romantic space, surrounding guests with deep, dark and regal colors and a rustic quality complete with hints of woven tapestries and Aubusson rugs, and rough-hewn beams lining the ceiling. The large picture windows and connecting patio provide a beautiful view of the Channel Islands Harbor just outside. It includes a bar, restaurant, and a private room for special events.

hollywood beach wine company outside

Bringing the best wines from Oxnard, Santa Barbara, Arroyo Grande, Paso Robles, Napa Valley, Oregon and Washington, as well as several select “old world” wines from favorite countries such as France, Argentina, Italy and Germany, Hollywood Beach Wine Company provides a relaxed atmosphere for wine tasting and wine education.

Lois founded Hollywood Beach Wine Company on a farm to table premise, which fits like a glove for Tim’s essence of California dining, known for emphasizing fresh local ingredients in his elegant recipes. In keeping with the Hollywood Beach Wine Company tradition, Tim’s menu includes traditional classics, comfort food and trendy ideas, using local farmers and fishermen.

We ordered a bottle of Scosso, a Tuscan blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot, from Four Brix Winery in Ventura, California to accompany dinner. This is a bold, heavy wine with a lingering finish with a hint of blackberries that pairs exceptionally well with a filet or flank steak. Del Franklin, a very talented and personable jazz saxophonist was performing on the patio when we arrived, providing the perfect accoutrement to dinner near the fire pit while looking out at the marina.

appetizers

Small plates / Appetizers

The Griddled Garlic Shrimp with Chili Butter wasn’t exactly what its name intended it to be. The shrimp was fresh, tender and flavorful with just the right amount of garlic, but it lacked in the chili department, and tasted more like grilled garlic butter shrimp.

The Carrot / Ginger Bisque, packed with fresh, carrots and warming, tingling spice of ginger is a must, if it’s available.

The Pork Belly Tacos with Cabbage and Pickled Red Onion were overcooked, unfortunately. I heard the perfect description for pork belly once – it’s like pork-flavored butter with a slightly crispy crust if done correctly. The meat on the tacos we received was more like overcooked pork chops, charred on the outside and dry and hard on the inside. Needless to say, we weren’t impressed with the first course.

Main Course

For the main course, we ordered Ancho Chili Marinated Flank Steak with a Chimichurri Sauce, Salt Roasted Potatoes, and Wilted Greens, and the Blue Cheese crusted Filet Mignon with a Red Wine Reduction, Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans.

hollywood beach wine company dinner

I ordered the Blue Cheese crusted Filet Mignon, medium rare with mashed potatoes and green beans (left photo above), but it arrived well done, and the mashed potatoes were over seasoned with salt to the point they were inedible.  Our server kindly replaced the plate with a perfectly cooked, medium rare filet and fingerlings instead of mashed potatoes (right photo above).

hollywood beach wine company dinner 2

I ordered the Ancho Chili Marinated Flank Steak, medium rare with a Chimichurri Sauce, fingerlings, and Wilted Greens, but it also arrived well done (left photo above). It was replaced with a perfectly cooked, medium rare steak along with the filet. This wasn’t the first time we’ve encountered overcooked meats at Hollywood Beach Wine Company. From the previous menu during our last visit, our steaks were also overcooked, but we were aware that they were working on the new menu at the time.

Now that Lois and Tim have dialed in on a final menu and Tim has moved on, Lois will need to focus on perfecting its execution. Hollywood Beach Wine Company is a casual-upscale restaurant with prices to match. Servers should be intimately knowledgeable in the menu, and the kitchen staff will need to focus on the details. Plating is not always consistent (the replacement flank steak wasn’t plated the same way the first one was), and cooking techniques must be honed in order for this restaurant to live up to Lois’ expectations.

Dessert

strawberry shortbread cake

chocolate mousseDesserts: a Strawberry Biscuit Shortcake and a Chocolate Mousse.

A gourmet experience is only as good as the quality of ingredients, preparation, presentation, ambiance, and service, combined. Some fine-tuning is needed, but Hollywood Beach Wine Company is well on its way to a successful execution with exciting potential for growth. With just a few minor adjustments, this place could be booked nightly as a favorite neighborhood gathering spot for locals, as well as travelers.

The service at Hollywood Beach Wine Company, while seemingly short-handed during some of our visits, never ceases to impress. The staff is exceptionally friendly and accommodating, however not always thoroughly knowledgeable in every aspect of the menu. Our server was not only accommodating and friendly, she made us feel right at home. We arrived for dinner service at 6:00 pm, and we were fortunate to be accommodated with a table on the patio. The entire restaurant and patio were bustling with guests that I suspect either had reservations or meandered in for a glass of wine with their dinner from the Wet Wednesdays event, featuring gourmet food trucks just outside in the marina complex.

The service by far made up for any indiscretion in execution, and I intend to visit Hollywood Beach Wine Company again in the near future. The overall experience was quite enjoyable, relaxing, entertaining and I felt it was money well spent.

And what has Tim been up to since launching the new menu at Hollywood Beach Wine Company? He’s launching a food truck called, Scratch Food Truck bringing the local, seasonal food the Sidecar Restaurant was famous for to the streets of Ventura County. Scratch will be part educational, holding monthly farm meals at various Ventura County farms, part community builder with its monthly grilled cheese jazz nights, supporting local talent, and part community support, offering sandwiches, salads and bowls at local farmers markets using ingredients from the markets themselves.

I wish both Lois and Tim the best of luck in their new ventures. It will be exciting to watch their businesses grow, and to see them engage with their communities.

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New Testimony: Jackson’s Partner Denies Everything in Paula Deen Case http://stitchesanddishes.com/2013/07/new-testimony-jacksons-partner-denies-everything-in-paula-deen-case/ http://stitchesanddishes.com/2013/07/new-testimony-jacksons-partner-denies-everything-in-paula-deen-case/#comments Fri, 05 Jul 2013 20:10:53 +0000 http://stitchesndishes.com/?p=9038 paula deen, race discrimination, sexual harassment, priscilla summerlin, lisa jackson, sandra sikes, bubba hiers, uncle bubba's seafood and oyster house, mary mac's tea room, deposition, willie smith, lady and sons, cafe intermezzo, we support paula deen, butter wrappers for paula, hoffman media

New testimony has surfaced in the depositions of Jackson’s female domestic partner, Priscilla Summerlin and Sandra Sikes, an employee at Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House which could prove very damaging to Lisa Jackson’s discrimination and harassment lawsuit against Paula Deen.

Summerlin stated during deposition on February 13, 2013 that she did not believe that the other employees at Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House shared Jackson’s feelings about the workplace conditions, as stated in Jackson’s complaint about the restaurant. Summerlin also stated that she did not recall Jackson claiming that Hiers asked her to watch pornography with him at the restaurant. During a bizarre deposition interview, Summerlin changed direction in her testimony at multiple points, and said that the difference between right and wrong is “debatable.”

During the deposition, Summerlin stated that she assisted Jackson in drafting the now infamous, “praise letter” just two months prior to Jackson’s abrupt resignation from the restaurant, and claimed that the words in the letter were genuine and expressed Lisa Jackson’s “heart-felt belief at the time.”

Does that [letter] fairly represent what her thoughts were concerning Paula Deen at the time?

Yes.

In other words, she didn’t draft this letter as a big lie to Paula Deen, did she?

No.

Well, you did have a conversation on May 27th, 2010 where Lisa Jackson expressed to you that Paula Deen was a role model for women, wasn’t she?

She was, yes.

And especially for those women who had started out in a place in life that would be less than fortunate, isn’t that true?

That’s true.

Summerlin and Jackson began dating approximately two and a half years after Jackson began working at Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House, and Jackson informed her repeatedly of racial and sexual harassment occurring on a daily basis in the workplace at the restaurant, according to her deposition testimony. The pair now share a home in Atlanta, Georgia where Jackson works at Mary Mac’s Tea Room, according to the deposition.

Jackson and Summerlin relocated to Atlanta two years ago, taking with them an iMac computer, Nikon digital camera, and a three-tiered plate stand that belonged to Uncle Bubba’s. Prior to leaving town, Summerlin and Jackson paid a computer repair store to replace the hard drive in the computer, according to the deposition.

Summerlin, a nurse practitioner, said it was, ”the same thing over and over, porn over the email, multiple discriminatory remarks regarding sex, sexual orientation, race, gender… It was a constant communication with her and Karl [Schumacher] about fair pay. I mean, I can remember it being as early as maybe fall of 2007, and it went through the end of her [Jackson's] employment.” However, Jackson helped Summerlin’s sister, Ashley Martinez be hired at Uncle Bubba’s, despite her knowledge of discrimination, harassment and violence in the workplace.

Summerlin changed her testimony several times, stating that Jackson did not complain about sexual or racial harassment at the restaurant at all. She claimed she had not been aware of the working conditions at the time she recommended her sister to Jackson, her domestic partner in 2007. By this time, Jackson had been employed as General Manager for over two years, and claims that sexual harassment, sex and racial discrimination and violence were common practice in the workplace, beginning when she became employed at Uncle Bubba’s in 2005.

In 2007, when you began dating Miss Jackson did she tell you that she had been subjected to sexual harassment nearly every single day she came to work over the prior two and a half years?

No.

Did she tell you that she was subjected to racial harassment nearly every single day she came to work over the prior two and a half years?

Not that I recall.

Did you ever ask her, by the way, how it is that she is able to manifest a claim for racial harassment in this case?

No.

Summerlin later claimed that her knowledge of the incidents reported in Jackson’s complaint accumulated over a period of time, but she took no action to help her sister, Martinez or her domestic partner, Jackson to get out of the abusive environment. In fact, Summerlin wrote an employee handbook for Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House under the direction of Jackson in 2010.

“I know that the discussions started in probably late 2008 when things had gotten — I think it — from what I remember it…” she stated during deposition. However Summerlin could not recall any incidents of racial or sexual harassment or discrimination by Paula Deen, “I don’t have any off the top of my head…,” she said during her deposition.

Sikes also confirmed during deposition that Jackson never related to her any concerns or complaints about Bubba Hiers or management at Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House throughout her tenure, despite Jackson’s claims in her complaint which launched the lawsuit last year.

During the deposition in February, Sikes recalled an incident at the restaurant when Jackson was recorded by security cameras, removing an empty syrup box from the trash, placing it on the floor in front of a tea urn, then photographing the scene in order to use it as evidence in a written reprimand of Sikes. “… that was not there when I left the night before,” she said during deposition. “So later that afternoon, I went and looked at the cameras and saw where she had actually taken it out of the trash can and put it on top of the tea urn and took a picture of it. So I showed it to Bubba to let her know I felt like she was setting me up.”

Jackson also claims in her lawsuit that Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House requires black employees to enter through the back door, use separate bathrooms, and does not hire black employees to work with customers. “I guess she [Jackson] hired or somebody hired an African American hostess,” Summerlin stated during deposition, “and Bubba requested that they be fired, which there were no African American front of house staff except for bussers, but I guess that’s technically back of house staff.”

Employees at Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House disagree. Willie Smith, a server for the last nine years, made a statement on his Facebook page on July 1, denying that only whites are allowed to work in the front with guests at the restaurant. Smith stated, “I’ve worked at Ms. Deen’s restaurant for close to nine years and I’m as “BLACK” as they come. I was never forced to enter through the back door. It’s a rule that ALL employees enter through the back door… Many of her staff in the front house are black.”

willie smith facebook post

Deen’s other restaurant, Lady and Sons features an Employee of the Month section, demonstrating a history of recognition of employees back to 2009. Many of those recognized for outstanding service are black, front house workers, including servers.

Claims of sexual misconduct and harassment are a continuing trend for Jackson. Summerlin stated that Jackson claimed to have been raped on multiple occasions and received counseling, and she recalled a recent incident of sexual assault in the workplace. Summerlin stated that Jackson worked as the General Manager at Cafe Intermezzo in Atlanta, Georgia then as an independent contractor in various positions. During her employment at Cafe Intermezzo, Jackson was witness to “inappropriate behavior with other staff members,” she said. During deposition, she stated, ”They had a history of sexually inappropriate relationships, I guess you could say. My understanding was that either the owner or a manager witnessed a very intoxicated employee being forced into intercourse with multiple people.” The incident apparently went unreported.

You know the difference between right and wrong, don’t you?

It’s all debatable.

Oh it is?

Oh, it is.

Summerlin’s deposition also revealed that in the early Spring of 2009, Lisa Jackson attended four EEOC mediations for claims that had been filed against her while working at Uncle Bubba’s. Four women filed claims, accusing Jackson of age discrimination and retaliation. In one case, Jackson had a falling out with a manager, Elaine Thomas and became enraged, telling Thomas to “get the f–k out of the restaurant.”

This wasn’t the only case where Jackson lost her temper in the restaurant. A person speaking under conditions of anonymity told Stitches ‘n Dishes that the problems became apparent shortly after Jackson started in her position at Uncle Bubba’s.

“She’d lose her temper in front of customers. There was always a fight between her and the customers, and she’d throw them out. Long-time employees resigned from Bubba’s, because they refused to work with Lisa Jackson.”

Paula Deen fans continue to support Deen. The We Support Paula Deen Facebook page launched the Butter Wrappers for Paula campaign to send a message to the corporations that have severed ties with the cook with Southern charm. The company that publishes Paula Deen’s magazine heard the message. ”Readers said if we dropped the magazine they would cancel subscriptions to other magazines we publish,” Hoffman told New York Post.

“In the eight years that we have collaborated with Ms. Deen, we have witnessed her consistent generosity toward numerous charities, from hunger relief and battered women to a Savannah-based orphanage, to name a few,” company Vice President Eric Hoffman said in a press release.

Hoffman Media began publishing Cooking With Paula Deen six times a year beginning in 2005. The magazine reaches approximately 350,000 readers. Hoffman Media is one of the few companies that still support Paula Deen, and announced that it will publish Deen’s new cookbook, Paula Deen’s New Testament which was dropped by Ballantine Books last week.

Deen also announced this morning that she’s parted ways with long-time manager Barry Weiner, as she embarks on a new direction for Paula Deen Enterprises.

“Paula Deen has separated from her agent,” Deen’s spokeswoman, Elana Weiss, said in an email Thursday. “She and her family thank him for the tireless effort and dedication over the many years.”

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Gordon Ramsay’s LA Restaurant Sued for Alleged Unpaid Wages http://stitchesanddishes.com/2013/07/gordon-ramsays-la-restaurant-sued-for-alleged-unpaid-wages/ http://stitchesanddishes.com/2013/07/gordon-ramsays-la-restaurant-sued-for-alleged-unpaid-wages/#comments Wed, 03 Jul 2013 23:56:10 +0000 http://stitchesndishes.com/?p=9032

Not long after the now infamous Amy’s Baking Company episode of Kitchen Nightmare’s, Gordon Ramsay finds himself in a similar boat. Amy’s Baking Company appeared on episode 16 of Hell’s Kitchen last season, and became the first restaurant on the show that Ramsay could not help. A frustrated Ramsay walked away from the restaurant when he realized he would get no cooperation from the husband and wife team who runs the restaurant. The couple proudly admits to having fired more than 100 employees, withholds tips from wait staff, and berates customers, should they complain.

Now, Ramsay finds himself in similar hot water at his own Los Angeles restaurant, The Fat Cow. Four former employees are suing Ramsay in a class action law suit in Los Angeles Superior Court, claiming, among other things, that they were forced to work grueling eight-hour shifts without a meal break. They’re also alleging that hourly employees weren’t always paid their minimum wage of $8 an hour and denied overtime pay.

Attorney for the plaintiffs, Lauren Abrams said that there was no accounting system in use at the restaurant, and employees were not provided with appropriated wage earnings documentation.

The plaintiffs say they were not provided with proper documentation for their hours worked and their compensation. “He makes a career off going into restaurants and telling them how to properly run their business,” Lauren Benge, a former barista at The Fat Cow told ABC.

However, Ramsay does not run day-to-day operations at The Fat Cow, and became aware of problems with the management of the restaurant earlier this year. A representative for Ramsay told ABC News, “We are aware there was a problem with previous management, which has since been changed, but this is totally unacceptable if any truth to it.”

Ramsay currently owns or operates nearly 30 restaurants worldwide and holds 13 Michelin stars. He has written more than 20 books, and contributes to a food-and-drink column at The Times’ Saturday magazine. He earned $38 million last year. He is best known for his TV shows about competitive cookery and food, including the British series Hell’s Kitchen, The F Word, Ramsay’s Best Restaurant, Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, Gordon’s Great Escape, Gordon Behind Bars, and Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course, along with the American versions of Hell’s Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares, MasterChef, and Hotel Hell.

Montinique Dever, a former hostess at The Fat Cow, told ABC News that she doesn’t believe all the blame falls on the hot-tempered chef. “Nothing was ever told to him,” she said. “We couldn’t tell him anything. He could not know anything.”

Read the story on ABC News 

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Recipe: Savannah Summertime Crab Martini http://stitchesanddishes.com/2013/06/recipe-savannah-summertime-crab-martini/ http://stitchesanddishes.com/2013/06/recipe-savannah-summertime-crab-martini/#comments Mon, 01 Jul 2013 02:46:47 +0000 http://stitchesndishes.com/?p=9011 martini 2  small

It’s officially Summer, and what better way to expand our recipe repertoire than to share one of my own Summer favorites? I made this for dinner today, and couldn’t resist sharing it. This Savannah Summertime Crab Martini is bold and comforting with a fresh, crisp zest that makes it the perfect Summertime meal on the patio. Adapted from a recipe by Bubba Hiers at PaulaDeen.com, the Savannah Summertime Crab Martini is made with fresh crab, salty bitter melon, and chopped tomatoes then seasoned to Southern perfection and topped with crab eggs, served in a martini glass.

Servings: 4-6 servings
Prep Time: 25 min – 2 hours, depending on method used
Cook Time: 3 min to 1 hour, depending on method used
Difficulty: Easy to moderate, depending on method used

Ingredients

Old Bay Seafood Seasoning or Paula Deen Seasoned Salt
Old Bay Lemon & Herb Seasoning or Paula Deen Lemon Pepper Seasoning
8-10 female (sook) rock crabs, clean, picked and cooked
Alternately, buy crabmeat from your grocer’s seafood department:

  • 1 lb claw crabmeat
  • 1 lb lump crabmeat

1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 lemon, quartered
2 to 3 small tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 cup mayonnaise
3 bitter melons
Coarse kosher salt
Crushed black pepper
Garlic powder
2 packets Old Bay or McCormick crab boil seasoning
Lemon wedges, for garnish

Directions

Crab Meat

crab prep

The longer, more difficult (but incredibly flavorful) method:

Fill a large pot with water, and add one packet of crab boil, two lemon quarters, and about a quarter cup of salt. Alternately, you can use clean seawater for the best flavor. Bring to a rapid boil.
Add the crabs to the boil. Don’t overcrowd them. Boil in stages if necessary.
Boil the crabs for 15-20 minutes, until they’re red and floating on the top of the water.
Remove the crabs from the boil and immediately place under cold water.
Pick and clean the crabs. If you’re inexperienced, this can take a while, and will require some patience. Be careful not to cut yourself with the broken shell, and look for broken shells in the crab meat. If you’re not sure how to do this, here are some great step-by-step instructions.
Place the crab meat into a bowl and set aside.
Carefully separate the bright orange eggs from inside the body and place in a strainer.
Rinse and toss the eggs under cold running water until separated and set aside.

Total time: About 2 hours, give or take depending on experience level

The faster, easier (still very tasty) method:

Buy cooked, picked and cleaned crab meat from your grocer’s seafood department, or seafood market.

Salty Bitter Melons

Cut Bitter Melon in half and discard the seeds and fibrous core.
To reduce the bitterness, blanch the bitter melons by placing them in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, and immediately shocking them in a bowl of ice water.
Strain in a collandar then dust generously with coarse kosher salt and toss.
Place the bitter melons into a bowl and refigerate for 15 minutes.
Place the bitter melons into a collandar and rinse under cold water to remove the salt.
Finely chop the bitter melons and set aside.

Mix the Martini

martini 4 smallDice the tomatoes and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the bitter melons with the mayonnaise, dijon mustard, tomatoes, and lemon zest and lemon juice.
Gently fold the crabmeat into the mixture and season to taste with Lemon & Herb Seasoning, Seasoned Salt, black pepper and garlic powder.
Empty a crab boil seasoning packet onto a plate.
Heat the crab eggs over steam for 2-3 minutes.
Rub the rim of the martini glass with a lemon quarter, and dip the glass into the crab boil seasoning .
Scoop the crab mixture into the prepared glass.
Sprinkle the crab eggs on top of the mixture
Place a lemon slice on the rim of the glass and serve.

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They Don’t Know Paula – Long-Time Deen Family Friend Speaks Out http://stitchesanddishes.com/2013/06/they-dont-know-paula-long-time-deen-family-friend-speaks-out/ http://stitchesanddishes.com/2013/06/they-dont-know-paula-long-time-deen-family-friend-speaks-out/#comments Sat, 29 Jun 2013 16:00:22 +0000 http://stitchesndishes.com/?p=8981 Paula Deen - Portraits

It’s been one eventful week at Stitches ‘n Dishes, beginning with the Paula Deen scandal that’s left millions of Americans divided, a well-respected family devastated, a town dumbfounded, and one Deen Family friend is ready to speak out about it. When I initially heard the news about Paula Deen’s alleged use of the “n-word,” I was more than surprised – that’s not the Paula Deen I know. Then when I read the details of her sworn testimony, I was bewildered. So, I declared “Paula Deen Week” at Stitches ‘n Dishes.

Reading the document led to many hours of research and additional reading. At some points, I felt I was reading a script from a legal drama. Seeing the headlines, watching the news and talk shows, and listening to the debates on national and local radio programs was even more baffling. I collected all of the documents - the letter that Lisa Jackson wrote to Paula, thanking her and praising her and her brother, Bubba, the letter to Paula from Jackson’s attorney, demanding a hefty sum of $1.25 million to guarantee that Jackson wouldn’t tell the public what horrible people they are, and of course the complaint filed in court, as well as Paula’s attorney’s response, three depositions, a litany of letters between attorneys, and an email message from a correspondent at the National ENQUIRER.  Things weren’t adding up. The media reports were not lining up with the facts.

All of those documents – in part or in sum – paint a very different picture than the information in the media. What else would I expect from the National Enquirer? But this has gone far beyond that “publication.” Mainstream media actually reported that story.

The stories are all complete with quotes from the source documents, and in some cases, they’ve actually linked to the documents themselves. Only, none are accurate. Some were paraphrased, some were taken out of context, and still others were completely misquoted. What made matters more confusing were the apology videos – the now infamous Paula Deen apology videos. I sat, watching and asked, “what are you apologizing for?” I guess I hoped that somehow Paula would spring to life in that YouTube video, and explain to me why she felt she owed a grave apology at all.

Believe me, I’ve met with fierce debate on this topic numerous times over this week, but with each argument, I revisited the documents – the very documents that the media has repeatedly quoted and based its reporting on. Each time, the person who’d raise the debate would eventually cease fire, having been shown the evidence. Almost every time, that is. There have been a few who, regardless what I showed them would insist on their positions, say some very nasty things to me, and end by telling me I’d burn in hell. Wow.

In all of the conversations I’ve had regarding Paula Deen, there hasn’t been even one person who could oppose my opinion based on the merits of this set of documents – not one. And it’s occurred to me that very few people actually even understand what this case is about. They’ve argued with me based on what they saw on The View or jokes on late night television or an “official” CNN news report. Yet, these are the same people who accuse the media of bias and worse, lying about every other topic. I find that … perplexing.

Most people appeared to blindly either accept or vehemently deny the cruel allegations of racism in Paula Deen’s family. Several Facebook pages were created in support, and one became an overnight sensation. Today, only a week later, the page touts over 500,000 supporters and has initiated a Butter Wrappers for Paula campaign. Possibly millions of fans are placing butter wrappers into envelopes, and sending them via US mail to Food Network and partners who have severed ties with Deen in a massive, organized effort to stand up for Paula, thanks to John Schmitt, a loyal Paula Deen fan in Indianapolis.

I’ve engaged in far more positive conversations about Paula and the initial story that I wrote than negative. Many fans have expressed appreciation and gratitude for my clearing the air and validating something they had suspected all along.

Yesterday, Stitches ‘n Dishes published my story about The Bag Lady Foundation, a charitable organization that Paula launched in May. That story includes a list of sponsors and partners who have stayed the course with Paula, and those who haven’t, as well as a very impressive list of people, organizations and publications who have spoken out in support. That’s not really enough though, is it?

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The Bag Lady Foundation

The businesses – the sponsors, partners, and even Food Network – are only looking at their image. We can’t necessarily fault them for that. After all, they’ve got a great deal invested, and can’t afford the association. I read a fantastic piece by Daniel Gross at The Daily Beast that actually gives some very valid insights on this topic. That doesn’t mean that fans shouldn’t put those butter wrappers into the mail – they absolutely should. Their decisions to sever ties with Paula really have nothing to do with racism or the words the media claims that Paula spoke. It’s about the public’s perception of those media reports.

butterwrapperletter

It’s a vicious cycle, though. Media feeds a twisted and distorted story to the public – a story that intentionally lights a fire and divides groups – in the name of ratings. The public responds, and the media keeps feeding the story, until the public grows tired of it. As sponsors and partners sever ties, they have no choice but to state their position publicly which validates one side of public opinion and incites rage on the other. Media steps in to feed another dose… rinse and repeat. Eventually, the story withers away, leaving only a memory of the devastation for the public, but a lifetime of rebuilding to those put in harm’s way.

I have no doubt having worked in Corporate America for well over 20 years that each of these businesses understands every detail of the documents filed in court. They’ve all thoroughly read and reread the depositions, and they’ve had extensive discussions with their PR representatives. They’ve carefully monitored the media reports, as well as the public responses. It’s business. Their opinions are not as important as the public’s perception.

The list of really impressive names like, President Jimmy Carter or Donald Trump is great, but what about regular people? Sure, we’ve seen the exchanges on Facebook and Twitter. I’ve been involved in many of those. But, reread the paragraphs above – they’re all opinions of people who have a few things in common. Nobody’s read the documents, and they’re all forming opinions based on yellow journalism.

medea-hall-paula-deen

Medea Hall, Savannah, Georgia

Pastor Gregory A. Tyson Sr., First Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia spoke out in support of Paula. He knows her. Everybody in Savannah knows Paula.

I talked to Medea Hall in Savannah yesterday. Medea’s 47 years old, and she’s lived in Savannah for almost 30 years. She’s known Paula and the family for almost 24 of those years, and she’s known Michael Groover, Paula’s husband for even longer. You can even say she’s part of the family.

Medea had been to a funeral for her friend, Theresa’s mother the night before, and Paula, Michael, the boys, and of course, Hollis were all there. She’s known her friend Theresa Fueger for just as long as she’s known the family. In fact, Medea recommended Theresa for a position at Paula Deen Enterprises many years ago. Theresa eventually moved up the ladder to become the Director of Operations.

“I was surprised to see [Paula] there, but that’s the way she is. She’s supportive that way,” Medea told me. “She looked tired, I cannot believe the absolute look of shock I saw on her.”

We talked for more than two hours, and Medea broke down several times during the call. “She was like a battered woman who’s just submissive. That’s just not her. She’s strong. She told me, ‘I can’t believe they all dropped me. They think I’m a monster.’”

tumblr_ly1xi3hWG31qiii6no1_500I asked her how she came to know Paula all those years ago. Medea has held positions in marketing and PR throughout her career. As part of her job, she would often bring catered services to meetings. She hired The Bag Lady, Paula’s first catering business to provide lunch, and loved Paula’s food. As Paula’s business grew, “we’d see Jamie and Bobby come around in their lunch truck. They were always easy on the eyes and everybody loved them,” Medea reminisced.

paula-deen-yard-signWalking around Savannah, Georgia, you can’t not be aware of the situation. People around town have posted lawn signs in their front yards in a show of support; the community is standing with Paula. “Everybody knows Paula; I’m not special. She does her own shopping. She goes to the store, and she talks to everybody,” Medea said. “When you hear someone talk bad about Paula, it’s usually someone who’s not from here; someone who doesn’t know her. This place gets into your blood and doesn’t get out. It’s a small town.”

“They don’t know her, and the genuine kind person she is,” said Azure Rountree, of Statesboro, Georgia in an interview with Meredith Ley, reporter for the local NBC affiliate. ”To me, the best part of success is what you can do for someone else. And she has set the best example of that.” Azure credits her own business to Paula’s generosity. The gift store at Lady and Son’s, Paula’s restaurant now stocks Azure’s sweet treats. She says it’s a true testament to Paula’s kindness

azure

Azure Rountree, of Statesboro, Georgia with Paula and Jamie

In my Wellness Wednesday article this week, I talked about Paula’s diabetes, and how stress affects blood sugar. Paula’s family and friends are standing by her, and doing all they can to keep her spirits up. ”Everybody’s supporting her and being positive; doing all they can. The family is staying on it – she hasn’t been eating well,” she said.

But the community is standing strong and showing their support. “You cannot move a car in Bubba’s parking lot from 10:00 am until 10:00 pm – it’s overrun with customers. I’m so glad to see the support,” Medea told me.

A philanthropist, Paula  spends a great deal of her time giving back to the community. Medea said, “This whole racial thing is what’s so stunning…” (a long pause) “…I’m at a loss for words. I just don’t understand it. That’s not – that’s just not her. It’s so ironic that she’s being persecuted for the things she’s fought for. She’s done so much for race relations here. I don’t think anyone’s even read the deposition.”

Sonny Dixon, a local newscaster on a CBS affiliate spoke out on the air in defense of Paula Deen. “He really stood up for her,” Medea recalled. “But you don’t need anybody to tell you what a great person she is. She’s not gonna come out and tell the public what she’s done for people – it’s ludicrous. I can’t even think of the words… at the end of the day, this isn’t even about her, but you don’t hear anything about the lawsuit.”

I think there is still a common misconception about the South, the racial divide, and the N-word.

“Nobody can believe this. I’m 47 and originally from Atlanta,” Medea said, “You just wouldn’t hear the word. You just didn’t hear it. Moving from Atlanta – the racial tension there is twenty-times worse than Savannah. Our mayor is a black female, and there’s been a transition here. To walk into any party or social situation in this area – and i mean Savannah – it’s not a word that’s said. People think we walk around saying the word, or we hate gays, and Indians or whatever. We’re not like that. You just don’t hear the word. It’s not a word that you tell your kids, ‘we don’t say that word’ because we just don’t say that word to begin with.”

What’s to happen next for Paula Deen is still unknown – I don’t think even she knows the answer to that question yet. One thing is for certain, it will play out and when the story is bled dry, it will fade away. While sponsors and partners may sever ties, and the story may fade away, Paula Deen will persevere and move onward as she always has. She is, and always will be an inspiration and a legend.

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Paula Deen – The Bag Lady Who Inspired a Revolution http://stitchesanddishes.com/2013/06/paula-deen-the-bag-lady-who-inspired-a-revolution/ http://stitchesanddishes.com/2013/06/paula-deen-the-bag-lady-who-inspired-a-revolution/#comments Fri, 28 Jun 2013 10:22:25 +0000 http://stitchesndishes.com/?p=8964 SND-Paula-Deen-Store

In the wake of the controversy surrounding a media smear campaign about Paula Deen’s use of the N-word, fans of the host of three popular Food Network television shows have taken to social media, and U.S. mail in support of the Queen of Southern Cuisine. Pre-orders of Deen’s latest cookbook, “Paula Deen’s New Testament: 250 Favorite Recipes, All Lightened Up” skyrocketed over the last few days along with sales of Deen’s popular cookbook collection, kitchen and housewares, and home furnishings.

Butter for Paula Deen - Following Today Show Interview Fans Launch National Campaign

Stitches ‘n Dishes has been covering the ongoing developments in Deen’s battle to clear her name through a persistent media blitz, and launched the Stitches ‘n Dishes Paula Deen Store on its website as fans rush to the nearest retailer to purchase Paula Deen products in support.

SND-Paula-Deen-Store-banner

The Stitches ‘n Dishes Paula Deen Store has been dedicated in honor of The Bag Lady Foundation, founded by Deen in May. The Stitches ‘n Dishes Paula Deen Store, powered by Amazon features 340 home and kitchen products, 36 books and DVD’s, and 85 grocery items from the Paula Deen product lines. Commission proceeds from the sale of products in the store will be donated to The Bag Lady Foundation, appropriately named after Deen’s first catering business in addition to a “matching contribution” of $500.00 by Stitches ‘n Dishes.

The Bag Lady Foundation, still in its infancy stages, plans to help people, communities and like-minded organizations to empower those facing a range of challenges resulting from poverty. The foundation plans to raise money from a variety of financial resources, including a percentage of the net proceeds from Paula Deen Foods. It also will accept public and private donations. To date, the foundation has received financial commitments from Meyer Inc. and the FOX Network show “Master Chef.”

butterwrapper

The Deen fan favorite Facebook page, We Support Paula Deen launched a Butter Wrappers for Paula campaign which begins today. The fan page has amassed more than 500,000 fans in the past week.

“It was a spur of the moment thing,” the founder of the fan page, John Schmitt told Stitches ‘n Dishes. “I was listening to what’s going on and thought, ‘this is ridiculous.’” Schmitt, 49, the lead night auditor for a major hotel chain in Indianapolis, Indiana recalled when fans sent over nine tons of peanuts to CBS when it announced the cancellation of “Jericho” in 2007.

“I thought everyone should send an empty butter wrapper to Food Network and Scripps,” he said. “And now I guess I’m doing some planning.”

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With an increasingly large base of Deen supporters rallying together on the world’s largest social media platform comes an extraordinary force capable of delivering a very strong message to sponsors and partners who have parted ways with the Deen camp.

Butter for Paula Deen - Following Today Show Interview Fans Launch National Campaign

The powerful base of loyal Deen fans quickly organized to flood the social media pages and call centers for Food Network, sponsors and partners who have abandoned ship, sending a message not only to those cutting ties, but telling those who haven’t that they’ve won their support. The list of those supporting Paula Deen and Paula Deen Enterprises far surpasses the list of those who do not. Partners and sponsors who remain in the Deen camp or have made public statements of support include:

Alice Travel/Royal Caribbean Cruises
Landies Candies
Hoffman Media
Random House
Metropolitan Cooking Demo
Springer Mountain Farms
Epicurean Butter
Knoxville Wholesale Furniture
Club Marketing Services, Arkansas
Sandridge Foods
Universal Furniture
Metro Cooking Show Dallas
New York City Wine & Food Festival
TastyBlend Foods

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Schmitt encourages Deen supporters to reach out to sponsors and partners on both sides of the fence to urge them to continue their relationships with Deen, and they’re willing to make swift adjustments to their shopping habits to prove their point. The voice of the customer is extremely powerful, but when combined with volume and dollars, their message can be devastating for any business.

UPDATED: Food Network, Sears/K-Mart, JC Penney, QVC, Target, Walmart, Walgreens, Smithfield Farms, Home Depot, Caesars Entertainment, Ballantine Books and Novo Nordisk have publicly denounced Paula Deen, severed ties and swiftly distanced themselves from America’s Southern culinary sweetheart.

However, a growing list of celebrities, activists, service providers and journalists have made public statements in support of Deen, including:

President Jimmy Carter
Martha Stewart
Anne Rice
Donald Trump
Rev Jesse Jackson
Rev Al Sharpton
Bill Maher
Glenn Beck
NFL Pro Bowler, Kris Jenkins
Stacey Dash, Clueless
Amber D / Classicly Amber
The Sweet and Savory Sisters
ABC’s, The Chew (Mario Batali, Carla Hall, Clinton Kelly, Daphne Oz, Michael Symon)
WhereverTV
FoodChannel.com
Stitches ‘n Dishes

Pastor Gregory A. Tyson Sr., First Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia spoke out in support of Deen.

blf-logo2The Bag Lady Foundation is a personal passion for Deen; it’s named it after one of the first businesses she started, during an extremely difficult period in her life. In 1989, after her marriage of 25 years ended in divorce, she was left with only $200 and money was tight raising both her kids and her younger brother, Bubba. She worked, hanging wallpaper, as a bank teller, and selling real estate and insurance. She then started a catering service, making sandwiches and meals, which her sons Jamie and Bobby delivered, and named it “The Bag Lady.”

Today, Deen is well known for her Southern Cooking passion, having sold more than 8,000,000 of her 14 cookbooks and received an Emmy Award nomination for her work as host of “Paula’s Best Dishes.” Deen’s landmark restaurant, The Lady & Sons, based in Savannah, Georgia, has been the launch pad for an expanding restaurant empire. In addition to her food products, Deen has a highly successful line of Paula Deen Cookware, as well as Paula Deen Home, which features furniture and other products.

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