During a serendipitous trip earlier this summer to Lake Junaluska in North Carolina, Elora and I were surrounded by visionaries of our time. At least I like to think that. Were heard from the Dry Tears guys, Charles Lee, James Pearson, Zach Hunter all in no particular order. They brought to light the greater cause that we as Christians must follow or else we are being half-hearted in our pursuit of Christ. As I have stated before, I believe that Jesus was a “Social Activist” fighting for the oppressed, the downtrodden, the lonely and the outcast of his society. Showing true equality to any that chose to have faith in him, and standing up to those who would enforce segregation and turn a blind eye to the needy. These ideas that have dawned on me over the last few months have been heartbreaking and revolutionary to Elora and I. I always had compassion for people in the world but always thought there were just too many out there. I tried to live with the idea that the world is what it is, and there isn’t much you can do about it.
Durning our week at Lake J, our friend Will spoke words of inspiration that have stuck with me everyday of my life, and words that I try to speak and share with others every chance that I get. He said we were to “Walk Like Giants,” and try to “Dream as big as God” then we would be able to truly impact our world. It is true. Rarely in my early life did I dream as big as my potential, much less as BIG as God. But, since that day, I have been more open to direction of God in my life. I see where he wants to use the passions I have in life for him, for people. So this is the written journal of my dream that I think God has put on my heart.
As a child I always loved being in the kitchen while meals were being made ready, and not always for the obvious reason as munching while no one was looking. I would get to spend time watching my Grandmother and Aunts cooking traditional mexican meals. Every Christmas we would help my Grandma making tamales, and not just the few that we would eat but batches in the hundreds of dozen tamales. That’s a lot even for most people. But, I learned about cooking for the Joy of others. To this day I love the look of peoples faces when they try something I have made and they just want to savor what they have been given.
For a long time I just cooked for my wife and friends that came over, and just played with the thought of culinary school. I was stuck on the price tag of schooling for too long of a time. A few times, I got to cook for large groups of people like breakfast for the kids on our Youth Road trip. I enjoyed getting up earlier than everyone else to have breakfast ready with my trusty assistant Dane out helping me with prep work, it was good time to be had by all. Six weeks ago I resigned my job; it had become a trap of comfort in my life. It was a big change in our lives; I had worked three and half years without a pay raise and the year that tax payers voted on a raise to compensate for the past, I resign.
We were definitely waiting on Gods direction and providence. I had decided that since my heart had been with cooking I would start a new career in restaurants. I found out its pretty hard to get a place on a line with out “experience.” For a long time I wasn’t able to get a waiting job for lack of experience. Just last week I was able to get a serving job at the local El Chico – not exactly my dream job, but you have to start somewhere. The same day I was hired, I happened to have an appointment with Le Cordon Bleu Culinary school in Austin for a full tour. I figured that with no job what better time to check things out. Elora in her way that pushes me to be a better person made me spend the application fee, and apply to the school. That night I was accepted in to school under a new Certificate Program that was designed for students with Degrees already, so they could just come in and start learning about Cooking. It is much shorter and much cheaper then the Associates plan. So now that I am in, I am seeing the start of my dream starting to solidify.
So let me try and lay out my idea. I can say that it’s not originally my idea but I see something and see where it could work all over the place. I saw a restaurant in New Orleans set up an internship right after Katrina hit to help the community, the people, and economy. They saw a group of kids that had no schools because they still hadn’t reopened them; a lot of the kids would have been “at risk” students. The owners had an idea to bring a group of kids in on an internship and train them in all aspects of the restuarant: hosting, waiting, prep work, cooking on the line, even helping with orders. But, the key to all of this is that they are learning a real skill and craft that is in more demand every day. This is not just flipping burgers and making fries; this is learning real Classic French techniques & gaining real experience. This is where my dream started, seeing people with a need and doing something about it. There is an old saying that I heard all my life, “give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and feed him for a life time.” This is kinda what I am planning to do.
I want to finish my Culinary school and after a few years of working experience, I want to have my own restaurant with an internship built into the plan. We would focus on “At risk kids” and the needy. Bringing in a group of interns set up to work and experience on the job training. My hope and dream is to be able to set these interns out after internship with jobs waiting for them in local restaurants. Maybe it is a big dream, but I don’t see the Texas Work Force doing a whole lot of good. The second part of my Idea came from a True North commercial that had a micro interview on The Inspiration Cafe. I believe it is located in Chicago. It is a restaurant set up to serve the homeless. That’s right. A Restaurant set up to feed the homeless. They don’t do food lines; they don’t serve on the streets. They bring them in at a table with a table cloth on it and a MENU. Where have you ever heard about things like this? Where else in the world can a homeless person or a person in need go and get a meal cooked to order? I love it. It’s absolutely genius! People getting treated like people.
So here is where I am, and here is where I am going to need some help, How can I mix these ideas together into a self sustaining operation? I want a fully functioning restaurant, a place that serves high quality foods, a place that has an internship built into the design to help people, but also to be able to close the doors to the paying costumers and open them to the homeless and needy at times. I have a big dream, bigger than anything I have ever tried before. and I now I am going to need help from anyone that will offer. I know I am needing to iron down the business plan, but I know that I have a least a few years until it will come to fruition. I still wonder what would happen if we all were to “Dream as Big as God.” Where would that take most of us? But I know if we “Walk Like Giants” we are bound to leave an impact on the lives we cross.
The Inspiration Cafe story:
The Inspiration Cafe website: