Appalachian chefs in training at The Hub

By Stephen Baldwin, RealWV

January 23, 2023

What do local teens do on a Friday night? This group attended a culinary workshop with Chef Chad Jones in hopes of performing better at their job in the food service industry. 

The Hub

High Rocks runs The Hub, a café in the former Lewisburg Elementary School building on Lee Street. They serve coffee, smoothies, breakfast, lunch, and affordable dinners Wednesday-Friday for the community. Their employees are local teens who gain work experience, make a little money, and get to give back to their community. 

They like it so much they gave up a Friday night to better themselves at their culinary craft. 

Chef Chad Jones

Chef Chad Jones is originally from Columbus, Ohio, and grew up on TV dinners. “It wasn’t until I moved to Appalachia that I truly enjoyed all the mountains had to offer in the culinary world,” he told the students. 

Chef Chad Jones.

“Food is love,” he says with a smile. “You cook food for the people that you love. That’s what it’s all about. So thank you for making me welcome with you here tonight.”

Culinary Workshop

The workshop began with a demonstration of various cooking knives, including techniques to use them safely and efficiently in the kitchen. Jones taught the students how to put a wet towel under their cutting board so it didn’t move, how to move through a crowded kitchen with a knife in your hand safely, how to cut vegetables, and how to maintain a clean workspace. 

Cedric Allder, middle, loved learning new techniques. “Most people don’t think a whole lot about how they’re holding the knife, and using proper technique makes it easier and safer,” he remarked after the workshop.

Once their vegetables were cut, they made a rustic marinara sauce from scratch together with Chef Jones. “The goal,” he reflected afterwards, “was to demonstrate how a few basic ingredients can provide a base for many meals.” 

Student Reaction

Kya Barb attended the workshop. “I do lots of cooking and baking not only working at The Hub but also at home,” she said. “This workshop was very insightful to me. I learned how to cut different things and how to do it quicker, safer, and more efficiently. And the final product of the prepared meal was phenomenal!” 

Chef Jones teaches the students about proper knife technique in a professional kitchen.

‘Mise en place’

Jennifer Jones (wife of Chef Chad Jones) works at The Hub via Americorps. She believes these professional development opportunities for our youth are vital to their futures. “Workshops such as this empower our youth by offering them the opportunity to earn while they learn.” 

She also thinks it will show young Appalachians that there is a place for them professionally after they graduate. 

As Chef Jones said throughout the workshop, “Mise en place,” which means “everything in its place.” 

His wife, Jennifer, hopes that applies not only to food in the kitchen but also to these young leaders in their professional lives. She said, “These power skills show them that staying in WV and contributing to our communities is a hopeful, very possible option!” 

Group shot with the finished product made from scratch by Chef Chad Jones and The Hub’s staff!

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