San Antonio knows Rosemary Kowalski for the catering that her company, the RK Group, has provided for the past 66 years. But now she has a new project on the front burner. She’s teamed up with SA Youth to launch Rosemary’s Kitchen, a culinary training program designed to help underprivileged youth ages 16-24.
“We want to help recover high school dropouts,” Cynthia Le Monds, CEO of SA Youth told a crowd that had braved the rains to pour into the Mission Verde Center, formerly Cooper Middle School.
The 27-year-old community group helps kids with educational programs that focus on their getting a diploma while they take part in workforce training programs that prepare them for jobs in construction and computer technology. The information has been put to use building energy-efficient homes in town.
Now Rosemary’s Kitchen will help people who have an interest in learning more about the culinary arts, restaurant work and catering. A community cafe will be part of the project.
Kowalski has been involved with the project from the beginning — and not just by lending her name, Le Monds said: “She was involved in the design, she helped select the equipment. … Rosemary put so much into the development of Rosemary’s Kitchen.”
“In my 66 years in the food business, I have always dreamed of helping someone have a place to teach culinary arts that would help our city,” Kowalski said. “I never dreamed that someone would offer to name a kitchen after me. I’ve always talked about wanting to help young people change their lives by becoming chefs and helping them realize their talents. Now we’re able to do this thanks to SA Youth.”
Her devotion to the cause was rewarded with the announcement of a $25,000 donation from H-E-B. Le Monds urged the gathering and the community at large to contribute as well to the non-profit program, “in whatever way is meaningful for you. … Any amount that you feel you can pledge will be appreciated.”
Students in the program were on hand to serve treats that the RK Group had donated, including lobster corn dogs and tiny cones filled with chicken salad. In the meantime, a handful of RK’s chefs were joined by some of the city’s finest, including Johnny Hernandez from La Gloria, to present playful takes on cafeteria favorites.
Jeff Balfour of Citrus served up chicken nuggets, John Brand of Las Canarias offered grilled cheese with pickled artichoke hearts and olives, and Jason Dady of Bin 555 and Tre Trattoria had square pizza. Eric Nelson of RK offered stuffed meatloaf in the form of meatballs and mac ‘n’ cheese gratin with a Goldfish crust and truffle shavings on top. Most of us never had anything nearly as good. And in a nod to chemistry class crossed with trendy molecular cooking, there were nitrogen Rice Krispie treats.
For more about SA Youth or for information on making a donation, visit www.sanantonioyouth.org or call (210) 223-3131.