Note to people looking to hire kitchen talent

It’s hiring season for Gorge food and beverage businesses. From personal experience, many will struggle to find and hire skilled staff.

If that describes you, you might want to bypass the “help wanted” channels and go straight to the folks training and kicking out qualified cooks.

In the course of researching another project, I spoke today with Maxine Borcherding, lead chef instructor at Oregon Culinary Institute in Portland. She says not all of their students come from or want to stay in Portland. Many are small town kids, and would love to return to a place like home. Hood River, for example.

OCI has a placement office, led by Nina Tuthill, and a 6-week externship program, coordinated by Florice Lim . Send either of them a note if you are looking for help finding help.

Sen. Merkley holds Hood River town hall 6 p.m. Monday, April 6

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., will meet the public at town hall events Monday through Wednesday, April 6-8.

The Hood River event is at 6 p.m. Monday, April 6, in the cafeteria of the Hood River Middle School.

He will update constituents on his work in Washington, DC, answer questions and invite suggestions.

“There are huge issues facing Oregonians and the best way for me to effectively advocate for Oregon’s families and businesses is by getting out on the road and holding a town hall in every county, every year to hear directly from Oregonians,” said Merkley.

Since joining the Senate in 2009, Merkley has held a town hall in each of Oregon’s 36 counties every year.


File under ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’

For a Sunday chuckle, ponder the double meaning of this sign in the window at Postal Annex. Thinkin’ proprietor Steve Nybroten is really onto something with his slightly ambiguous imperative …

Oh, but for want of a missing preposition. "From" here? Or "to" here? Hmm.

Oh, but for want of a missing preposition. “From” here? Or “to” here? Hmm.

Brewing innovator Logsdon acquires Knead, plans to continue use of yeast

Dave Logsdon at his brewery, soon to be dishing out bread and (?) in downtown Hood River.

Dave Logsdon at his brewery, soon to be dishing out bread and (?) in downtown Hood River.

Dave Logsdon — the original brewmaster for Full Sail Brewing, co-founder of Wyeast Labs (maker of brewing yeasts for the global industry) and, of late, the brewing brains behind Logsdon Farmhouse Ales — now tells us his family has bought the Knead bakery business from Feliza Greenwald.

Several ideas for expanded use of the space at 5th and Cascade are swirling around Logsdon’s noggin. Contacted March 23, he could confirm only that the bakery operation will continue, with expanded emphasis on serving commercial accounts.

The bakery was originally a partnership, first branded as Etoile Artisan Bakery, then evolved after launch to the Knead brand and single ownership.

More details in April, Logsdon said.

Miss K finds tasty tortillas, and more …

My mission today: another great restaurant suggestion for my friends. And that would be: Lake Taco. Stuey wrote about this place in the Biz Buzz and has been on a tangent to exchange a major portion of his DNA for their hand-made tortillas. (more)

Class series will teach managers how to hire and work with staff

Hiring and managing good people is one of the pillars of a successful business. If you want to do it right, you may want to sign up for a three-part training series on staff management.

Starting March 31 with additional class dates on April 7 and April 14, the staff management series for food business entrepreneurs is a joint effort of the Gorge Grown Food Network, Gorge Innoventure (site of the classes), and Catalyst Consulting.

Cost is $145. Register online. Topics include hiring and bringing new staff aboard, helping new hires understand how they’re doing, and employment policies and documentation. Local human resource and legal experts will contribute to the learning.

Scholarship applications are available from Gorge Grown. Contact Woodley Smith for an application.

Tropicali Fruit brings popular antojito street food to Heights

Alejandra Ruvalcabo, Diana Hernandez, Sylvia Delgadillo, and Terry Boyd take a break from preparing antojitos at Tropicali Fruit.

Alejandra Ruvalcabo, Diana Hernandez, Sylvia Delgadillo, and Terry Boyd take a break from preparing antojitos at Tropicali Fruit.

Visitors to Mexico discover quickly that there’s more to the cuisine than tacos. One category much-loved by Mexicans but perhaps a bit new to non-natives is antojitos, a type of street food that literally means “little cravings.”

People new to antojitos might call them snacks on steroids.

Sylvia Delgadillo has been concocting the treats for several years, first out of Juanita’s Marketa, then for the last year in Odell, and now she has opened a shop on the Heights, on 12th street just north of the Mesquitery.

It’s called Tropicali Fruit, an homage to the flavors and Delgadillo’s home town of Merced, Calif.

Flavors range all over the map, from their chicharron (based on fried pork rinds), to the Fresas con Crema (“We sell a lot”), which includes a house-made yogurt cream, papaya, mango, melon, banana, strawberries, apple, granola, coconut, raisins and pecans.

Hours will expand in the summer, but for now, Tropicali Fruit is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.


GO! business plan competition puts emphasis on community response

Nicole Bassett is just the sort of entrepreneur the folks at Gorge Owned! had in mind when they cooked up their first Local Business Plan Competition to help celebrate Earth Day.

Bassett is an early entrant, but probably won’t be the only one by the time signups close April 3.

The competition is open to new and existing businesses, but the key thing is that they have to demonstrate a commitment to triple-bottom-line thinking — a balance of regard for the environment, the economy and the community.

Scale is key, as well. GO! is looking for entries from little guys, with annual revenues of less than $250,000.

Bassett, who consults on sustainability issues, is preparing to launch a new business called (re)make. It’s designed to help people who produce and market something take the used product back and recycle or re-use it.

“It’s like the operations in the used car business, where they buy them back, go through them, improve them for resale,” Bassett says. “(re)make is designed to serve brands that aren’t capturing the full value of their products.”

She’s hoping to first run a pilot project with interested companies. She’s focused first on clothing companies. “We’re responding to the fact that there’s a lot of value in textiles,” she says.

Bassett and other entrants in the competition will first submit business plans. A committee of local business experts will winnow the pile down to five finalists, who will make oral presentations from 6 to 8 p.m. April 23 at the Pint Shack (on Third) in Hood River.

This is where the rest of us come in. We get to listen, and select the top three candidates through a simple paper vote. The winning candidates will then be eligible to apply for a business loan up to $5,000 through GO!’s partners at the Kiva Zip program.

Kiva Zip is a not-for-profit micro enterprise lending program that pairs its funds with investment commitments generated by applicant businesses through the crowdfunding model.

Interested? Apply through a form at the GO! website.