Whether you want a Hawaiian Luau in your backyard or a black-tie barn wedding, Vinwood Caterers dishes up bespoke menus with professionalism and panache. Owners Rick Delisle and Tom Lang work with local farms and purveyors to give their dishes a decidedly New England spin. In response to the coronavirus, several staff worked with the nonprofit Root in Salem to provide meals for area citizens in need.
3 Union St., Ipswich, 978-356-3273, vinwood.com
Chef Sam Hunt oversees the training of underserved youth on the North Shore at Root. Serving everything from grain bowls to sirloin steaks, this nonprofit takes the win for catering.
35 Congress St., Suite 2350, 3rd Floor, Salem, 978-616-7615, rootns.org
For authentic, made-from-scratch food tied with social enterprise, it doesn’t get much better than Root, a nonprofit founded in 2016 to provide underserved North Shore youth with culinary training, job and life skills, and practice doing both through the company’s café and catering operation. Veteran chef, Sam Hunt, oversees the culinary training for Root students, along with the catering menus, which range from casual sandwiches and grain bowls to elegant salmon tartare on rice crackers and cinnamon-dusted lamb chops. When the pandemic hit, Root started community catering to benefit numerous local charities. When the nonprofit had to temporarily close its catering operation, youth job training program, and all-day café due to COVID-19, the business found a new way to serve the community.
The mission of Root is to help North Shore youth in need gain culinary competencies, workforce preparedness, and life skills through an intense 12-week program in order to enter the workforce with confidence, professionalism, and food service skills. Then in 2020, the nonprofit moved from being just a culinary training program to a culinary training and employment program when it hired 15 graduates of the 2019 training program to work in its catering operation. “But in early March when the pandemic hit, we had to suspend traditional catering, so we began community catering,” says executive director M. Scott Knox, “which allowed us to keep many of the graduates we had employed.” Thanks to generous donations, Root employees began preparing meals on premises for vulnerable North Shore individuals facing food insecurity.
“From catered dinners for clients served by LifeBridge North Shore shelter and Plummer Youth Promise, to individually packaged meals for seniors living in Salem Housing Authority, Root has been working to feed our community,” says Knox. Thus far, the nonprofit has produced and distributed over 10,000 free meals with the additional help of volunteers, including the managing director and head chef of Vinewood Caterers in Ipswich.
“Moving ahead and beyond COVID-19,” says Knox, “Root is committed to maintaining community catering. It will be part of our catering program and provide contracted community meals and sponsored meals for area human service agencies.”