This summer I got married, joining the ranks of those who met their life partners at Bon Appétit.
I first met Scott Richter, Bon Appétit’s general manager and executive chef at WhiteWave Foods in Broomfield, CO, a few summers ago when we were opening the Regis University account in Denver, where I am the director of catering and brand programs. A value we share with Bon Appétit and each other is volunteering, so we decided to share our honeymoon — or post-wedding adventure — with my new stepchildren, Brook and Avry, by volunteering in Nicaragua. We were joined by 11 other members of Covenant Church from Fort Collins, CO. Our Bon Appétit family attended our wedding and sent us off with well wishes.
We spent 11 days in Nicaragua putting our culinary and hospitality skills to the test. We volunteered through feeding programs, learned how to cook over wood-burning fires, and experienced fabulous Nicaraguan cuisine. Our first stop was in Managua at the Camino feeding program, which provides a full meal once a week to children from the surrounding community. Typically, families in this neighborhood scavenge off the dump, so we were happy to be able to provide some simple snacks to supplement the weekly meal of rice and beans. Brook and Avry were soon interacting with the children there and were amazed at how grateful they were for bananas, chocolate milk, and cookies.
The longest stay we had during our trip was in Ameya, a rural community outside Chinandega. We provided some kitchen supplies and equipment improvements and prepared two days’ worth of meals for 75 people at the community center and church. Scott learned his way around the kitchen with the wood-fire stovetop and made do with campfires to handle overflow from the small, one-room kitchen. We served food buffet style, with the whole family taking turns at plating up and washing and restocking plates.
I enjoyed learning about local cuisine and customs and was able to teach a simple no-bake cookie class, as there are few homes with ovens in Nicaragua. Brook and Avry jumped into local classes to help teach English. We were also able to visit local homes and gardens and see how families lived, with few to no amenities as we know them. We also visited a nearby family farm. The family raised pigs, chickens, and ducks to sell at the open-air market. The pride and care the families put into their livestock was reminiscent of what we see when visiting our local Farm to Fork partners.
Our culinary adventure brought us closer as a family and showed us that there is a universal language in food. A Nicaraguan saying sums up our wonderful experience: “Barriga llena, corazon contenta,” or, “A full stomach, a happy heart.”
Submitted by Rebecca Repp, Bon Appétit Director of Catering and Brand Programs at Regis University in Denver