Friday, May 18, 2007

Rootie bats for Building New Hope

You don't have to be a baseball fan to fall in love with the new children's book, "Rootie Kazoo and the Final Pitch".

It's a poetic tale that captures and holds the attention of kids while pulling the heart strings of grown ups too. Parents especially will love Rootie Kazoo as he pitches his way to victory with the coaching advice of his Dad from the sidelines.

It has what every good book should have . A hero, a protagonist, the tense upward climb of drama, the climax and....since it is for kids....a happy ending. Well, happy for Rootie, his Dad, and their team. As for the other team....better luck next time.

If the title brings to mind Rootie Kazootie of the 1950s, keep in mind also that this Rootie is actually a dog, and unlike Kazootie, he doesn't play the Kazoo, he plays serious hardball.

Rootie and the Final Pitch isn't just another kid's book. It was artfully written by Dr. Jim Hardiman who dedicated it to this son, Luke, and for the children of Nicaragua. Profits from the sale of Rootie will be donated to Building New Hope to help in supporting our work here. That makes it doubly special for us.

Dr. Jim is a physician in Florida who treats free clinic patients, mainly Hispanic migrant workers. He's also a good friend of ours who has volunteered here in Nicaragua several times, treating the sick in the country's poorest regions, including the mountains of Matagalpa during the coffee price crisis that brought widespread hunger to small coffee farmers and their families.

We-re eager to help Rootie and the Final Pitch hit a homer by helping it into distribution. There are copies available in Maverick Lounge here in Granada. Drop by to take a look.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

A talented Granada guest

Visiting us right now, here in Granada, Nicaragua, is Spokane-based artist Katherine Staib Derrick.

She's an old friend of the Building New Hope team having already visited once before and completed the masterpiece featured above in the Art Beat blog. Her visit has also prompted interest from her local paper the Spokesman Review.

She's here, this time, to paint the walls of the new CafeChavalos. Currently, the designs are about to be transferred from paper to plaster.

Watch this space for more details of her progress and for pictures of the murals as they take shape.

In the meantime, you can find out more about Katherine and her talents via her own website.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Lilly joins the Chavalos in Time for New Restaurant Opening

A big CaféChavalos welcome for Lilly Filipow who joins us as the new chef trainer.

While, as many of you may already know, we’ve had problems recruiting for the position, in the end the solution was right on our doorstep.

Lilly trained as a professional chef and has a career including a spell as a cooking teacher working with both young children and teenagers.

In addition she has also had her own restaurant in California and a catering business in New York.

An eclectic career also includes time recipe testing and menu planning for major food corporations.

More recently she's worked as a restaurant consultant here in Nicaragua, with a number of establishments.

Plus, in Granada, home of CaféChavalos, she ran Lily’s Restaurant which was located inside Casa San Francisco.

Now she’s working with Café Chavalos founder Donna Tabor to prepare for the opening of the new restaurant which is on the corner of Calles Martirio and Arsenal. Opening night looks likely to be before the end of June.

Lilly lists her big challenges with the Chavalos as quality, accountability, consistency and service.

She comments: “I’ve been knocked out by the guys. Where they have come from and how the Chavalos program has helped them turn their lives around is incredible.

“On the one hand, I want them to learn, not just about how to make great food but the entrepreneurial skills that come with running a restaurant and the all round package of keeping a business afloat and organised.

“But, of equal importance, I have to ensure that for our customers their trip to CaféChavalos is a memorable one for all the right reasons.”

While the CaféChavalos team waits for the work to be completed on the new restaurant, Lilly is making sure they don’t forget any of their culinary skills.

A number of group bookings have been taken and have been served at Lilly’s own home – behind the Santa Lucia Social Club on Calle Santa Lucia – another project that Lilly is locally well-known for.

The events to-date, all well-received by diners, have ensured that not only much needed funds continue to help support the project, but also the Chavalos legend is not forgotten and everyone continues to eagerly anticipate the new location.

Donna comments: “Lilly will be a vital member of our team and her knowledge of the hospitality industry will be invaluable. She has the dual advantage of knowing and understanding the local Nicaraguan culture as well as the requirements of tourists and expats from the States and overseas.”

In the meantime, for Lily, the success of Donna’s Building New Hope projects has demonstrated what can be achieved and she is eager for the challenge of the new CaféChavalos.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Pupusas in El Salvador

We Nicaraguans think that gallo pinto, a mixture of rice and beans, is the world's most perfect food. But we found the second best when we visited El Salvador......pupusas!

Pupusas are thick tortilla MADE BY HAND (very important!), then filled with beans or meat with potatoes and other good fillings. We did more than just eat pupusas....we learned to make them.

When we visited a women's shrimp collective in Jiquilisco, we met a woman who was making pupusas. When she heard that we were learning to be chefs, she gave us a pupusa lesson. Check out our photos.

That-s Oscar, Orlando, Papini and Juan Carlos flipping those delicacies from hand to hand. We are going to serve them in our new CafeChavalos when we open our restaurant. So bring your appetites and we may even give you a pupusa lesson too!