(Part 2) Food is more than just fuel! Cooking is all about community. We are pleased to welcome Navy veteran, chef, educator, and business owner Pam Dennis to the show -- Chef Pam teaches her community how to share the joy of cooking with their family and friends.
Learn more about Chef Pam's Kitchen: https://www.chefpamskitchen.com
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On behalf of our members, we serve as an advocate for Wisconsin’s veteran business community and promote economic opportunity for military veterans, military families, and veteran-friendly businesses.
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Intro & Outro Themes:
Barry Dallas - I’m Gone (https://uppbeat.io/t/barry-dallas/im-gone)
Noise Cake - Light It Up (https://uppbeat.io/t/noise-cake/light-it-up)
Today on Wisconsin veterans forward. We continue our dialogue with chef Pam of chef Pam's kitchen. She's a veteran, she's a business owner. She is an educator in the culinary arts. It's been a great dialogue so far. We're gonna pick up where we left off talking about , uh , culinary educated for young people and the programs that she uses to teach young people how to cook. We're gonna get into it right after this. You are listening to Wisconsin veterans forward. Wisconsin's premier audio resource for veterans, military families, veteran owned and veteran friendly businesses. Wisconsin veterans forward is brought to you by the Wisconsin veterans chamber of firstname.lastname@example.org . Absolutely. You know, it's , uh , our , our kids have done locally cuz we're we're, we don't live in Waukesha . Uh , but, but our kids have done cooking classes and then have come home and shared their meals and they have that pride and they eat things that they wouldn't normally eat just cuz they cooked them. And now we've gotten to the point where every Thursday night, the two old , the oldest, they alternate cooking dinner that night. Oh that's cool . Yeah. And it started out very creatively, especially with the younger, the two with very creative flavor , uh, profiles. Uh <laugh> but, but it's uh, they've , they've both really, you know, they've started to focus in on a recipe that they're really good at and then branch out to a second one and they're starting to see what works and what doesn't and man, if I could take them over to the , to one of those summer camps, it sounds like you're , it sounds, you're really getting into the, the, not just the like put the chicken on the pan for 10 minutes, but like, or, you know, bake this for 10 minutes or whatever it's you're getting into the like, so the end result was X. Why did that happen? Because you mixed it too much. You beat it too much be , or you, you left it in too long or not enough. Like you're really kind of getting into a little bit of the science behind this E even with the kids. Is that right?Speaker 2:
Yes. Yes. We , um , we teach 'em a lot of different things. Like the five mother sauces that all chefs are taught. We might like with the teens we taught last summer , um , how to make a Beel sauce. And then we took it to the next level and , and said , now that you know the basics of the Bestel sauce, let's talk about, if you add this type of cheese, now it's called a Moe sauce and then we made a pasta dish with it. So always trying to give culinary tips and um, about what they're doing, not just making it,Speaker 1:
Have you ever about teaching a summer camp for like retireesSpeaker 2:
<laugh> that would be, I , I wouldn't be adverse to that. It would probably be really funSpeaker 1:
Because I, I thought myself, like I would, I would do a summer camp. I'm clearly not a teenager. Just barely I'm clearly not a teenager anymore, but I would do a summer camp and then it's like, oh, well I have to work. I have a day job. I was like, man, if I was retired, like I would do that in a heartbeat. You know, maybe you have like a, a silver summer camp or something.Speaker 2:
Yeah. That sounds fun. You've had people that have come like I just, the other night, I'm thinking , as you were saying that there was a woman that I was talking to about how to hold the chef knife. Um, so for the adult chef assist classes , we start with talking about how to hold the chef knife, that chef knife, that you're gonna purchase one good knife in the kitchen. That should be the knife that you spend the money on. And , um, she looked at me and she said, I've been cooking for 30 some odd <laugh> I think I've got this. And I said, you , you do, you do. And it's looking good, nice job on the mincing . But it's funny that I think there are , um , I've had a lot of older people that come to our adult chef assist classes that maybe are in their , uh , sixties, seventies that are saying to me, I've lost the love for cooking and you brought it back tonight.Speaker 1:
Awesome .Speaker 2:
So just learning some new recipes and a few culinary techniques, I rejuvenate some of the people that have been cooking for years .Speaker 1:
Now . Now talk about a dream come true from a , you know, us being a, a business organization, we represent , uh , you know, veteran owned and veteran friendly businesses throughout the state for somebody to see you, someone who, you know, had a dream, got educated, opened a business , um, scaled rapidly, and you've built a , a huge a business. And if you're not careful, you're gonna need an even bigger building. It sounds like , um, you've built this huge successful operation, and you're also using it to give back and to serve your community and to educate the next generation and all of these amazing things like that. That is that's the dream for, for entrepreneurs. Uh , and a lot of veteran entrepreneurs, they wanna be able to , uh, support themselves and their families doing what they're passionate about and serve their community at the same time. Sounds like you've hit the, you've hit the , the goal mine here. What's next for you? What does the future hold ?Speaker 2:
Uh , I dunno , you know, I've retired twice now. I retired from the Navy in 2000 and that I worked at community Memorial hospital in the Omni falls. I retired from there when I officially decided to do the culinary thing , um, full time . So , uh , I don't know what's next for me. I mean, I, we are , we wanna add more things . Our business, we have a marketplace now that we opened , uh , super bowl weekend. Mm-hmm <affirmative> we sell pizza kits to go. We partnered with a , um , company here in Wauk shop called Baker's quality. It's their generation brother and sister owned. And we sell their three crops that are usually only sold to restaurants. Um, and you get three thin crus, my homemade pizza sauce, your choice of pepperoni or sausage and a bag of cheese and it's pizza kit to go . And then we also showcase our artisans products that , um, we over 20 artisans that rent out our commercial kitchen. You're probably seeing some of them behind me. Uh , right now we have three of the four commercial kitchens occupied with people making things for the public. Um , and so that piece I really wanna , um , work on and add more , um , product to be sold. The , the people of that rent out our kitchens. And then also , um, we wanna this fall when the outdoor farmers market <inaudible> closes the end of October, we will want to have an indoor farmer's market here at she's kitchen. So we feel, we love the downtown business environment and the small businesses we work with. But , uh , I feel sad that at the end of the farmer's market season , these people go off to other towns that happen to farmer's market and we haven't had one. So , um , we would like to do showcase that this November 1st and to our artisans that make things for the public as well as other artisans that are at the Shaw farmers market in the summertime.Speaker 1:
That is awesome. Uh , it's, it's cool to see how much you wanna do , uh, in that community. And I agree with you, the downtown waha , that main street area is spectacular, great community and a tight-knit community. Um, and , and that tight kni community, if anybody's been watching the news in the last few months was just absolutely rocked by, by a , an unspeakable tragedy. Um, for those of you that, that don't know, I'm sure you all do there was that, that unhinged person who drove a car into a parade on main street in waha . Now, I I'm sure as you made your career transition from being a nurse and from healthcare into the culinary arts, probably never anticipated having to bring your old training back to life. Uh, you know, and, and , and use that. And yet here you are present during the parade tragedy during that catastrophe, was there any hesitation or , uh , I mean, you jumped in and you started helping people, was it, did your military training just snap into place and you went there and just started helping. And , and what was that like? Or were you just not even thinking about it?Speaker 2:
My husband and I, and , um , another chef that works with us here, who's an army veteran , her and her husband, the four of us were sitting out front in , uh , soccer chairs right in front of our business, watching the parade when it happened and immediately Jen and I , um , just responded , uh , I think we just went into mode of military, what we have as nurses. And she learned first aid and body care with the army in her job with the army. So we just responded, I saw someone in the middle of the road, a , a young boy, I ran a , she ran out to check the kids that had been sitting in front of us. And , um, and it was just amazing how many people opened their doors businesses here to just as a safe Haven for people to come into. Um , so just an incredible, incredible outpouring of support in a time when , um, you know, people could have turned their backs and not help , but everybody just kind of mobilized and did what they could do.Speaker 1:
I think that really speaks to the, the quality and the depth of community in Wisconsin. And in walk Ashaw in that, you know, Mr. Rogers always said, you know, if you're trying to wrap your brain around at tragedy , you , you look for the helpers. And I, I, it was so fortunate that you were, were a helper that day, you know, especially given your training and your willingness to get out there and, and, you know, save life and limb, you know, and, and , and take care of people , uh, afterwards, you know, people are talking and trying to figure out why we have talking heads in the news, arguing about this, that, and the other, but boots on the ground, in the trenches in waha . Tell us about how that community banded together and what you witnessed in the aftermath of that tragedy.Speaker 2:
Well , we had the Previn at , um , the , the , um , area in front of the library, and that was, I think , um , very healing for me to go, to see the amount of people that came and then the speakers, the clergy from different denominations , um , praying with us all. And then , uh , small business Saturday happened, you know, we was the Saturday after that tragedy. And a lot of us were debating, should we open? Should we be , um, open for business? And my husband, and I said, we're not gonna let evil win. We are not gonna be stopped by somebody that did something so terrific. So we opened our doors and we sold , um , waha strong t-shirts, and it was amazing how many people came downtown to either , um , get a blue light, to put at their house to , um, remember the grade and then also buying the waha strong t-shirts. And then we also had , um, one of our, we do a lot of lobster classes because I'm from new England andSpeaker 1:
Okay .Speaker 2:
And we had our main , uh , main now lobster company where we get all our lobsters flown in from Maine, FRA , our , they reached out even, and they said, what can we do for lock shop ? We saw what happened on the news. And so we said, how about you give us 50 lobsters? And we put on a , a lobster benefit dinner where the minimum amount of donation was a hundred dollars. And it was crazy because December is always the busiest month for food businesses. And then we plopped in a , a baked stuff, lobster dinner for 50 people in city . Uh , but again, the people that came out in support of that, and then we got volunteers to help me cook it. And that was really cool, like a volunteer fireman , um , people that one woman, her, her , um , her daughter and her son-in-law are teachers in waha . Uh , so she came to volunteer just, she wanted to be help helping, and I think it was healing for all of us to be able to do that. So again, the businesses around here just rallied and, and did what they could to , um, let everyone know we're gonna still be open for business. And,Speaker 1:
It's fair .Speaker 1:
Well, I, I appreciate you sharing that, that, that obviously it can't be easy to do, so I can't thank you enough for opening up about that. It , you know, as, as it , obviously it was a tragedy, there's no other word for it. Um, and you know, our thoughts , uh , and, and prayers continue to go out to those affected by this and their families. And, and I , I can't even imagine, but, you know, on , on the hopeful end of things, I'm just, I , I was so proud, you know, and I know a lot of people were so proud to see wa Shaw not be knocked over by this and to see you band together and support those who needed it. And it was just, just a Testament to your community. And it's a Testament to the business owners. You included how you rallied around it and created an opportunity for everybody. I mean, you could have donated yourself, I'm sure. But instead you created an opportunity to donate and let other people get involved with each other. And like I do you know, that you're just like an incredible community builder. Do you know that? Or is it like, is it an intentional thing? Cause you really are.Speaker 2:
Well , thank you . I think it's my nursing background , the nurturing piece , but , um , yeah ,Speaker 1:
I mean really to, to , to see that opportunity to do a lo I can't imagine 50 people cooking lobster all at the same time. And did you do that as , as a benefit?Speaker 2:
It was channel six , I think came and did a , a little segment about it and I could think of his , oh my gosh, everybody make sure your hair is back. Make sure you've got well , you know, the chef and the retired nurse was coming out, but, you know, they were so willing to help that , you know, you didn't wanna turn people away. So it was, I mean, it was a fun two days . And again, I think it was healing for all ofSpeaker 1:
Us. Yeah, well that this is, this has just been an incredibly enjoyable conversation, chef Pam , uh, I can't thank you enough if somebody wants to learn more about , uh, your classes and what you do and how you do it, let me make sure that I put a banner up the website.Speaker 2:
Uh , the website is chef PAMs , kitchen.com .Speaker 1:
That's easy to rememberSpeaker 2:
On the website. There is a section for the new marketplace, and then there's a section for if you wanna sign up for a class , um, or if you wanna contact me about a kid's birthday party or the summer camps , um, my phone number's list it on the website as well, and feel free to call. If you have questions or email me, I'm more than happy to , um , answer any questions that people may have about you here. I think some people still in waha act sure what we are is we not really a restaurant? And , um , they're still trying to figure it out.Speaker 1:
Well, we we'll , we'll do everything we can to get the word out too. Maybe we'll bring our whole staff over there to, to do a , a cooking building. Yeah. Team building. Exactly. So I have the website, right? Chef Pam's kitchen scroll along the bottom there. Yes. Okay . Excellent. Well, thank you so much, chef Pam for sharing your experiences and, and just your, your very inspiring story with us. I'll ask you to hang on the line for just one second here. Folks. That was like probably my favorite interview in a really, really, really long time. Like seriously talk about a success story from a business perspective and somebody who is humble and grounded and dedicated to service , uh, veteran business owners, take notes. See if you can take her out to, and just pick her brain cuz she she's a good one. She knows what she's doing over there and is doing great things for her community. That's awesome. I'm see. Good conversations like that. Just like motivate me. Like I'm motivated now I'm gonna go for a jog or something. So the burning question is, did other Adam end up going on that jogSpeaker 3:
It's a mystery world may never know . Thank you for listening to Wisconsin veterans forward brought to you by the Wisconsin veterans chamber of commerce. Please visit email@example.com . Don't forget to subscribe to this podcast, leave a rating and review in whatever platform you're listening through.