Late last summer, we got a call from Hope Harbor, Inc, a wonderful Grand Island non-profit, asking us to participate in their “Serving Up Hope-Battle Honey” fundraiser. Humbled by such a request, we of course, said yes. We then found out we’d be competing against 3 other area chefs and the secret ingredient was honey.
The others competing were Chef Larry Cordova from Miletta Vista Winery, Chef Jerry Allen from Odyssey, and Brent Linder of Sin City Grill and The Wave Pizza Co. All incredible chefs and brilliant minds in the kitchen. Admittedly, it was a bit intimidating.
The challenge was this: create an hor’s d’oeuvre that featured the secret ingredient, honey. Make 500 portions and transport it to Riverside Golf Course for Hope Harbor‘s annual fundraiser. There, their 500 guests would try all four hor’s d’oeuvres while enjoying the silent auction and drinks. At the end, guests would vote for the best one and a traveling trophy and bragging rights would be awarded at the end of the evening. Who wouldn’t want to sign up for such a challenge to showcase their business, enjoy some fun cooking, potentially win great bragging rights, all while raising funds to support all the incredible work Hope Harbor does? As a non-profit retreat and conference center, we couldn’t help but want to throw our hat in the ring to help another non-profit out.
With my husband, John (a.k.a. TLC’s Chief Volunteer), we put our heads together to create an appetizer that not only showcased the secret ingredient, but also showed that The Leadership Center was serious in the kitchen. We did just that. Our dish featured a wonton crisp with a schmeer of honey cream cheese. We topped it with a Mae Ploy, honey chicken and finished off with a honey, ginger broccoli slaw. It was a treat. With the assistance of N.V.A.F. Board member, Shane Hennessy, we prepped, cooked, prepared and served our delicious appetizers to Hope Harbor’s guests. It was exciting, fun, and absolutely exhilarating. The entire process was amazing.
After the cocktail hour, we all adjourned to the dinning room to enjoy a delicious dinner, hear the testimony of Hope Harbor’s life changing work, and enjoy an exciting live auction. Then they called all four competitors up on stage to announce the crowd’s favorites and the evening’s winner. After introducing all of us and the dishes we prepared, they said, “And the winner of Battle Honey is The Leadership Center.”
I was floored. Humbled. Speechless and moved to tears.
Applause, handshakes and high fives, they handed me the trophy and invited me to say a few words. As I stepped up to the mic, I was filled with so many emotions. In the eight years, I have had the pleasure to serve as The Leadership Center’s executive director, I never thought we would be on a stage like that, celebrating the success of our kitchen while assisting a great partner in accomplishing their goals. It was amazing. Absolutely amazing.
I want to say to Liz Mayfield and her staff at Hope Harbor and her board members, thank you for the invitation. Thank you for trusting us to come to your event and care for your guests. Thank you for allowing us to showcase our kitchen and share both our business and our story with your guests.
Thank you to our TLC Team, who after a week full of opportunities and some unforeseen challenges, came together to care for our numerous guests and prepare for an evening like last Saturday. Thank you. I was asked numerous times who the chef was behind the dish? I happily replied, “When you come to The Leadership Center, you don’t get a chef or a housekeeper, an event planner or an executive director, you get a team. We collaborate on nearly everything and tonight’s dish was no different.” Sure John and I worked out a recipe, but we bounced ideas off of staff, had folks try different versions of it and such. Kitchen Assistants, Mackie and Jake, helped prep for the meals on Saturday as well as for the contest when they came in Friday night. Jade, Nellie, Chase, Donnie, Jake, Mackie and Barb helped prep for the contest on Saturday as well as served out three meals and a pizza party while we went to Grand Island to Serving Up Hope. Micheala was on call to assist our guests and helped with towel changes, guest needs and set-ups. Gilbert came in for towel changes and laundry. Everyone did what they could to ensure we could serve a full house at TLC and be off grounds participating in Saturday night’s festivities. 100% collaboration and teamwork.
Thank you to Shane for taking a weekend away from home to help us shine.
And last but not least, thank you, John, for fearlessly stepping into the kitchen and helping to create a dish worthy of the trophy we took home.
Now to answer the three questions we were asked countless times on Saturday and since:
- Is this on the menu at TLC? Yes! Of course. It will be by request, but of course, we’d be happy to recreate it for you.
- Do you travel? As our kitchen is licensed by the state and we do carry a catering licence, we can cater events off grounds. Just give us a call.
- Are you a restaurant? No, we aren’t. We are a full service retreat and conference center with a full service kitchen. We can handle food for conferences, retreats, meetings and special events. We’d be happy to cook for you. Just give us a call to inquire how to host an event with us.
Here’s to more partnerships, collaborations, success and serving up hope!
Maile Ilac Boeder
Executive Director and Serving Up Hope: Battle Honey Winning team member
For more pictures from the Serving Up Hope’s event, click here