Chef Beard’s soup takes home the gold at Rescue Mission challenge
Eight amateur and professional chefs recently took over cooking chores at the Allentown Rescue Mission.
The sous chefs were participating in the Lehigh Valley Business Group’s Health and Wellness Committee’s soup challenge on Feb. 25, making a variety of soups from fresh ingredients for 50 of the Mission’s residents.
“The chefs were instructed to try to think outside of the can and use their creative juices,” said Wellness Committee Co-chair Eva Poliquin. “Our goal is to help bridge the gap between the less fortunate and the outside community in a fun creative manner.
“The soup challenge I think taught the residents new ways to eat healthy without hurting their budgets. Soup is affordable and often easy to make.
“We hope to organize the soup challenge with the Mission again next year.”
This summer, the wellness committee plans on helping Mission residents grow vegetables on raised beds in the Mission’s courtyard.
“Vegetables grown from the garden beds will hopefully go directly back into the Mission’s kitchen,” said committee Co-chair Erika Ashman. “I hope the residents get involved with growing their own food, learn to love doing it, and start cooking their own meals.”
Chefs participating in the challenge included Poliquin of Cherryville and Ashman of Emmaus.
Poliquin made an Italian wedding soup. Ashman made a curried butternut squash soup.
John Hinkle, a member of the Mission’s executive board, made an American ham and bean soup.
Chefs Ian Beard and his Assistant Chef Jhan Volney from the Holiday Inn, Breinigsville, made a smoked turkey and Callaloo soup, a Caribbean specialty.
Rescue Mission Food Service Manager Terry Miklas made a New England clam chowder.
Chef Conrad Kryzanowski from Whole Foods Market, Trexlertown, made a vegetarian pasta e fagioli, and Ghada Alnajjar of Orefield made a Mid-Eastern lentil soup.
Along with a cup of each soup, Mission residents ate sandwiches and chocolate cake, all while enjoying musical entertainment from Mission employee David Garcia, who sang and played the guitar.
Poliquin and Ashman raffled off door prizes that included bags of socks, mugs and clothes.
Residents were also given recipes for each soup.
Soup left over from the challenge will be served at the Mission’s “Spoonful of Love Free Soup on Sundays” program, which provides a cup of soup and some bread for those in need.
Mission residents chose which soup tasted best.
After all the votes were in, Chef Beard and Assistant Volney’s smoked turkey and Callaloo soup was named the winner.
They took home a $50 gift card for The Restaurant Store, Bethlehem, and an apron signed by each resident who attended the challenge.
“I enjoyed this event because I obtained different tastes from the other soups, and can take them back with me into my kitchen,” Chef Beard said. “I plan on helping the Mission and HWC with future programs they have.”
Hinkle commented on one of the Rescue Mission’s goals.
“Ninety-two cents of every dollar the mission receives is spent on the Mission’s residents,” Hinkle said. “The Mission tries to help people recognize their talents so they can share them with the rest of the world.”
CEO and Founder of the LVBG Kevin Cope commented on his group’s purpose.
“Our mission is to help others, to try to make a difference, and give back,” Cope said.
“People in the community can come take a tour of the Mission to better understand what they are trying to do for people, and learn how they can help if they want.”
Rescue Mission Director of Operations Hillary Spear thanked the Lehigh Valley Business Group.
“We are so grateful for the LVBG’s help with this event and for our volunteers,” Spear said. “Anything that helps spread awareness for the homeless population is a bonus.
“There is always so much to do, and whatever time our volunteers provide benefits everyone: the residents, the staff and the community as a whole.”
Spear encourages anyone interested in volunteering to attend one of the Mission’s graduation ceremonies.
Mission residents attend a 16-week program including a life skills class the first eight weeks, and then finish up by working at a job or internship.
Graduates appreciate people from the community attending their graduation because many do not have family or friends to support their accomplishments.
Graduations take place every nine weeks at New Bethany Evangelical Congregational Church, 224 N. 6th St., Allentown.
The next ceremony is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. April 28.