Wilmington Kitchen Collective’s new Kitchen Manager Chef Angell uses food to instruct, connect, and build community.
Chef Angell. A title, and a calling.
Talent, in alignment with a spiritual mandate, sounds like the perfect recipe for an administrative position in a collective of food entrepreneurs, local businesses, and the faith community. But when she was invited to apply for the role of Kitchen Manager for the Wilmington Kitchen Collective, it took some convincing for Angell to believe that she was the right person for the job.
To understand why requires a peek into her backstory.
Angell’s life has been defined by giving, of one sort or another. As an infant, she was given to the family who would ultimately raise her. Rather than risk the baby’s welfare being determined by an overburdened state system with sketchy outcomes, Angell’s mother instead brought her to one of the women in her neighborhood who she trusted to surround her daughter with love. Angell’s adoptive family had meager financial means, but supplemented her life with far more substantial wisdom and nurturing, and taught her to cook as a practice of affection and care.
Angell’s adoptive family home was a safe haven for others in their housing project and the surrounding community. If one was in need of a decent meal, a clean change of clothes, or a place to rest their head during an especially difficult time, the door was open and the table was set.
This routine began to instill in Angell a particular body of knowledge that would serve her into adulthood. Meal planning and budgeting, ingredient selection, food preparation, and developing a meal schedule based on the needs of the household were all a part of her daily practice. These skills, she soon realized, aligned well with catering.
Delicious survival skills.
After seeking out a commercial kitchen that could support her growing food truck and catering business, a local minister directed Angell to the Wilmington Kitchen Collective. She only intended to attempt to join the cohort, but they had a better idea.
Her skills could help them run the entire kitchen operation.
During the interview process, Angell began to realize that what she brings to the position is much more than an impressive resume. As her name suggests, she is a messenger of information and a natural-born instructor. She has worked professionally as a teacher and feels a personal responsibility to pass on a substantial body of knowledge to anyone who reaches out to her for guidance.
That is how she feeds the spirit.
As for the body, she’s got plenty of methods for feeding it as well.
Angell’s grandmother showed her that the kitchen is a classroom where secrets are learned and history is shared. Recipes can be memorized as well as catalogued. Spices and seasonings are best understood by tasting them, and combining them creatively. The most palate-pleasing dishes are never instantly made. The work to create them yields the best results, no matter how you feel about the person who will ultimately consume them.
Angell laughs when she recounts one of her grandmother’s famous quotes: “They don’t have to like you, but they will always remember how good your fried chicken is.”
Retaining her Facebook business page’s five-star rating after four years is a source of pride, and the success of the charitable arm of Chef Angell’s enterprise garnered her some well-earned national attention during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Give Back Delaware operated as a pop-up charitable service to feed those in need, and was featured on Disney/ABC’s “Live with Kelly and Ryan.” In the future, Angell hopes to incorporate this effort as its own 501c(3) nonprofit organization that can grow and service even more Wilmington residents.
But that is a longer-term goal.
In the meantime, Chef Angell’s younger sister has just graduated from culinary school and is preparing all of the appetizers for Signatures by Angell Catering orders, while she is being trained on overcoming the administrative challenges of running a food business. Something that Chef Angell learned on her feet, and that her sister didn’t get much instruction on in her culinary program. Eventually Angell plans to turn over the entire business to her sister, while she devotes her time and energy to other pursuits, like spreading similar training to other up-and-coming food entrepreneurs using Wilmington Kitchen Collective’s commercial kitchen, when it officially opens later this year.
The messenger, giving back and spreading love, one satisfied customer at a time, and planting seeds of knowledge for a future harvest of self-sufficiency and prosperity in Wilmington and beyond.
For more information on the Kitchen Collective’s mission, partner organizations, and other resources, visit them online at www.wilmingtonkitchencollective.com