A Sense of Joyful Admiration for the Man [Chef Jon Emanuel] and the Mission [Project Angel Heart]

It’s heartening to meet someone who restores your faith in humanity.
I had that privilege last weekend, when I visited Project Angel Heart with a group from Slow Food, to prepare and preserve food for them.
That someone is Chef Jon Emanuel, the Executive Chef.
Project Angel Heart feeds those with life-threatening illnesses in both Denver metro and Colorado Springs.
Food is the most practical of ways to help human beings, and this is probably why the nonprofit receives so much support.
People can easily understand what they do and why it is crucial work.
So much so, that 90% of their donations are private.
So much so, that those donations helped PAH pay off their current building within years of obtaining it.
So much so, that all of the equipment inside is state of the art, allowing them to do their job with more ease and efficiency.
That job, is to prepare 900 meals each day, with the goal within the next decade to increase that number to an ambitious 3000.
With a kitchen staff, and 30-40 kitchen volunteers each day, plus administration, programming, client services, development, distribution and volunteer resources people on staff, it truly does take a village.
In addition to all of the operating expenses such an immense undertaking has, they spend $8000. on food every week.
I got the chance to talk with Chef Jon briefly about another Slow Food event I attended – a fundraiser for their annual trip to Terra Madre in Italy – where he was one of the chefs having helped prepare the multi-course meal we all enjoyed that evening.
He’d been invited to participate by chef colleagues Bob Blair from Fuel, and Jeff Osaka from Twelve.
He explained how extraordinary a thing this was, having been included, since something like that would never happen in NYC or LA – meaning restaurant chefs wouldn’t think to include a nonprofit chef in their collective efforts.
You could tell it meant a lot to him to be a full-fledged member of the community of chefs in Denver, and it gave me an additional layer of pride about our city – that inclusivity.
He’s a kind man, and an endearing one.
But, he has a strong, disciplined core that is evident.
The place was spotless when we arrived, with work spaces uncluttered and ready to facilitate productivity.
If he saw anyone being idle, he found them a job to do.
He allowed us full use of his massive commercial sized kitchen, and all of the equipment in it, while expecting swift clean up and things put back in their proper places.
This is how it has to be when you have the volume of responsibility for the care and feeding of hundreds and hundreds of people on a daily basis.
I left there with a sense of joyful admiration for the man and the mission.
Chef Jon is also the founder and “organ-izer” [his term] of the Denver Adventurous Eater’s Club, which as you may know, hosted the ultimate adventurous eater himself, Andrew Zimmern, on his most recent visit to Denver.
Additionally, he has a personal blog called Don’t Tell Chef, which you can read and revel in here: http://donttellchef.com.

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