Whatcha Gonna Chew? | Food News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Seven Days needs your financial support!

Whatcha Gonna Chew? 

Side Dishes: Bad Boy Bistro helps offenders build skills

Published May 13, 2009 at 5:23 a.m.

Visitors who drop by Barre’s Local Agricultural Community Exchange (L.A.C.E.) on a Friday evening may be surprised to learn who’s behind the line whipping up their localvore eats. Via the “Bad Boy Bistro” — a new partnership between L.A.C.E. and a residential facility called Return House — youthful offenders from Washington and Lamoille counties work at the store to spice up their job skills and regain the trust of their communities.

The program “evolved organically” when Adam Woogmaster, 44, began slinging omelettes at the market and working as manager of Return House. “It fit so perfectly with the mission of L.A.C.E to be a training ground, an opportunity for the guys,” he suggests. When he proposed the idea to owner Ariel Zevon, she “loved it,” says her mom and store spokesperson Crystal Zevon. So did the Vermont Department of Labor, which pays the 18-to-22-year-old men minimum wage as they train.

Ultimately, says Zevon, L.A.C.E. would like to put some of the “bad boys” on its permanent staff. She notes that, besides the “food-service track,” the program offers opportunities for those interested in entrepreneurial endeavors, such as creating a specialty product for retail sale.

Luckily, the food dished up at the BBB is a far cry from prison fare. L.A.C.E.’s Friday-night dinners rotate among three themes: Farm Fast, Farm Fine and Farm Family. The first involves classic American eats such as burgers, fries and milkshakes made entirely from local ingredients. The second takes things to another level with fancier fare. “They did one recently that was lamb or spinach in phyllo-dough pastry,” Zevon recalls. “That was pretty spectacular.” The third type of meal is homey food served buffet style.

Have the participants developed a taste for local stuff? Big time, Woogmaster attests: “The food quality is new to them and exciting to them. Working with some foods like ramps and fiddleheads that have been wildcrafted really turned some of these guys on.”

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

More By This Author

About The Author

Suzanne Podhaizer

Suzanne Podhaizer

Former contributor Suzanne Podhaizer is an award-winning food writer (and the first Seven Days food editor) as well as a chef, farmer, and food-systems consultant. She has given talks at the Stone Barns Center for Agriculture's "Poultry School" and its flagship "Young Farmers' Conference." She can slaughter a goose, butcher a pig, make ramen from scratch, and cook a scallop perfectly.


Comments are closed.

Since 2014, Seven Days has allowed readers to comment on all stories posted on our website. While we’ve appreciated the suggestions and insights, the time has come to shut them down — at least temporarily.

While we champion free speech, facts are a matter of life and death during the coronavirus pandemic, and right now Seven Days is prioritizing the production of responsible journalism over moderating online debates between readers.

To criticize, correct or praise our reporting, please send us a letter to the editor. Or send us a tip. We’ll check it out and report the results.

Online comments may return when we have better tech tools for managing them. Thanks for reading.

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative

All content © 2022 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401

Advertising Policy  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us  |  About Us  |  Help
Website powered by Foundation