SAUCE ON THE SIDE by Michael Birchenall (JAN 2013)


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Looking Through the

 As much as you can learn from the past, in the end you have
to gather yourself and direct your energy forward … moving onward. If you spend
all your time in reflection, you just won’t get done what needs to be done.
That’s what I came away with from my interview with John Snedden, FSM’s
Foodservice Leader of the Year. As I thought I was wrapping up the conversation
in his Arlington location, John was detailing his forward direction for
Rocklands Barbeque as noted in the article inside this issue. It didn’t take
long for my reporter’s pen to start picking up speed as John detailed the
growth he sees for Rocklands, his partner interest with an expansion element in
Earl’s Sandwiches in Arlington and a new brew pub Right, Proper in Washington’s
Shaw District with Thor Cheston and brewer Nathan Zeender. It should open in
the next eight months. And I know John has done some college exploring with his
oldest child. I think he may need a bigger windshield.

“Look at life through
the windshield, not the rear-view mirror.”

The Website:

If you have stopped by lately, check out the Foodservice
Monthly website. It’s all part of trying to make better use of the windshield.
I am posting daily during weekdays and on the weekends as necessary. You will
find all kinds of news there … including that always popular “breaking” news.
It can be events, people, issues, FSM columns: whatever you want it to be. Help
me with those items that you want to ingest in the cyber world:
Thanks to all who have noticed the change and have already started sending me
the news I can use and you want to read.

Association of Maryland Education Foundation

My two-year service as chairman of RAMEF came to an end at
with the new year. Nothing has been more rewarding, more challenging and for
the future of foodservice more important. We are headed into year two of
hosting in Baltimore the National ProStart Invitational where the National
Restaurant Association Educational Foundation high school culinary competition
will take place.

Under the leadership of Ladeana Wentzel, the RAM staff does
so much to support the teachers of close to 100 ProStart schools in Maryland.
RAMEF is a national leader among Education Foundations and I will continue to
support, first as the immediate past chairman.

Mary Ellen Mason, director of the Hotel Culinary Arts and
Tourism Institute at Anne Arundel Community College, steps into the chairman’s position
for 2013. I will be sure to support and assist in any way I can as she brings
her special direct and driven brand of no nonsense leadership to the
foundation. I like that!

OpSail 2012 Virginia

Not everything I see and do can make it into the magazine.
Hopefully a stronger economy and better utilization of the website will help in
2013. The best story I never wrote was my invitation from the Culinary
Institute of Virginia to be a judge in a Fleet Chefs Challenge at OpSail 2012
Virginia in Norfolk. As part of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812, the Port
of Virginia was host to an impressive fleet of tall ships, navy and military
war ships representing the world.

The head galley chefs from the visiting fleet of ships
competed in a showcase of each visiting country’s culinary traditions as well
as individual chef’s talents. As judges we visited the ships and were served
food that rivals any of our “celebrity” chefs with great style in the captains’
dining rooms. I had the chance to board three naval ships from the US, Great
Britain and the one of two warships from Denmark, the Esbern Snare. It was a
once in a lifetime opportunity. At the end of the day, I could think to myself
one more time … what a great job I have.

Upcoming Stories

Two stories that did not make it into 2012 are a priority
for 2013. While I regret not being able to fit them in, I am proud that the
fine work highlighted in the two features is ongoing and expanding.

The Virginia Department of Corrections through the
leadership of the Director of Food Services Mark Engelke, the coordination of
training with Rebecca Reamer, Director of Education and ProStart for the
Virginia Hospitality & Travel Association and the ongoing assistance of
Catherine Vandermer of the National Restaurant Association is training
offenders to be productive workers in foodservice. This is a great story … period!
It will appear online ( first on January 23 … and then in print in

I have another education story that will explore the work
and teaching being offered at The Universities at Shady Grove, as part of the
Maryland public university system. The online story will appear on January 30 …
and then in print in March.

Al Gordon Remembered

I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder to be asked to a party
… when Jeff Gordon, member of the FSM Advisory Council, invited me to his dad’s
100th birthday party in February 2011. Can you believe it, a 100th birthday
party for Al Gordon complete with a cake and 100 candles! Al lived with Jeff
and Beth in his apartment within their Washington home. Jeff just sent me a
note that Al passed quietly at 101 years, 10 months and 5 days. My wife and I
only met you at your birthday party but we will never forget that day and miss
you already. Peace.

About the Author

Michael Birchenall is Editor and Publisher of Foodservice Monthly, a regional trade publication covering the foodservice industry of the Mid-Atlantic (DE, DC, MD, VA). Foodservice Monthly has been recognized as the Restaurant Association of Maryland's Allied Industry Member of the Year and by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington as the Joan Hisaoka Associate Member of the Year.

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