BIG Thank you to Tigard-Tualatin Times for yesterday’s very nice article on hautemealz.com, MY KITCHEN, and the upcoming Philippines trip!
Tualatin chefs raising funds to help children in Philippines
Hautemealz is doing its part to eliminate hunger — one kitchen at a time
As far as Perry Perkins can tell, he’s good at one thing — he can put together a delicious meal. With skills developed from years providing what he calls “free labor” in his grandfather’s and father’s restaurants, the now seasoned chef always knew he’d end up in the food industry one way or another.
While his years working in the family business gave him the culinary skills necessary to pursue a food career, they also showed him that working in a restaurant simply wasn’t his forte. For the Tualatin-based co-owner and executive chef of Hautemealz.com, there is no satisfaction in the high-volume, fast-turnout, faceless customer businesses that he experienced in his family’s restaurants. He wanted something more personal, and he wanted to repay all the help that was given to him growing up.
“I had a lot of people help me over the course of my life. I was just some kid that they didn’t have any responsibility to help, and they did,” Perkins said. “I feel like I need to give that back, and the best way I can do that is with the one thing I’m actually pretty good at, which is cooking.”
One take at this is through the Hautemealz program SimplySmartDinnerPlans, which Perkins started last year with two other chefs, Chris Renner and Terry Ramsey. The idea is to ease the stress and simplify the process of planning healthy meals for users and their families. The Hautemealz chefs put together recipes and grocery lists that families can then choose from and shop for. Perkins thinks the hard part about cooking is simply knowing where to start, and SimplySmartDinnerPlans eliminates that problem.
In January, this idea was spread into the charity realm through My Kitchen. By partnering with Impact Northwest, the same pillars used for Hautemealz were tweaked for the program, which teaches Oregon foster children, ages 16-18, how to cook for themselves. It’s set up to help those who are living on their own for the first time, and thus aren’t likely to have learned the skills necessary to consistently prepare meals.
“It’s mainly about home cooking. Taking care of yourself, taking care of your family, that kind of idea,” said Perkins. “They enjoy realizing that they can do stuff for themselves. They get a lot of stuff handed to them. Not only do we not do that for them, we make it clear that we expect them to create something of their own.”
Perkins’ philosophy very much follows the idea that you can feed people for years, but eventually they’re going to have to fend for themselves. His goal is to give people the tools they need to create healthy, delicious meals without stressing over how to make it happen.
Taking the idea of My Kitchen even a step further, next January, Perkins and fellow chef Renner are traveling to Tacloban City in The Philippines to teach volunteers at the Hillside Feeding Center these same basic tenants of kitchen organization and preparedness. They’re adapting their week-long menus to match more traditional Filipino foods, and will also be holding classes to teach these skills to the 80-100 impoverished children that the kitchen serves.
“I don’t go hungry, and I don’t like seeing people go hungry. I can’t say anything about it if I’m not doing something about it,” said Perkins. “I just enjoy feeding people. I think there’s a communal aspect about it that goes back to the dawn of time.”
For the trip, Perkins is trying to raise $15,000. Two-thirds of that will be used for travel expenses and to buy the food for the classes and dinners . The remaining $5,000 he plans to give to the kitchen to finish construction and to help them continue carrying out the lessons they learned.