Saturday was beautiful. I walked between the raindrops all over downtown Santa Cruz, looking for a client/friend who was hiding at one of three holidays fairs in an 8-block radius. I found her too late, and in a room too dark to photograph her wares. (More on her soon. She is Heidi Schlecht, former owner of the River Street Cafe & Cheese Shop (now owned by the talented Claire Palazzo), and Heidi has renamed her incredible preserves with the Plumline label.)
I headed over to Chocolate bistro next to Bookshop Santa Cruz, hoping to see my friend, the owner and chef, David Jackman. He was there, and we talked about the usual: friends, food, Wikileaks, our involvement with the internet and then…he was leaving. David owns a second restaurant called Backstage Kitchen, next to the Rio Theater. Originally started as a lunch-dinner venue, Backstage now only hosts private parties—absolutely delicious fare, as you can expect from David and his talented team.
Before leaving, David gave me some news, and invited me to an event that was happening that night. A new enterprise in town is Lightfoot Industries, who hosts "Supper Club" events in a pilot program for at-risk teens. The students get to train in a real restaurant, learning not only professional skills that will serve them in life, but equally important: about sustainable foodways, community, family, and excellent communication. David has generously offered his restaurant for staging the events: professional guest chefs are employed to do the cooking. The work that falls to the teens is as you'd expect: set-up, service, and so on. But it goes further than that.