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Evelyn Cheatham

FOUNDER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

WORTH OUR WEIGHT LTD

AWARD CATEGORY: EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP

AGE: 60+

RESIDENCE: SANTA ROSA

PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: CHEF EDUCATOR

STAFF: 5 AND TONS OF VOLUNTEERS

Describe your organization.

Our comprehensive culinary program teaches food-service fundamentals in a supportive, hands-on environment.

Through Worth Our Weight apprentices acquire marketable skills in food preparation, professional level cooking, catering, and small business management. Apprentices also learn the soft skills of teamwork and professionalism. We hold our apprentices to a high standard of excellence and often this is the first time such standards have been asked of them. The apprentices have faced major challenges in their lives, including commitment to the foster care system, difficulties with the law, homelessness and significant family disruption.

Here at WOW! they find a home for their vocational aspirations. They work to create better lives for themselves and their families. And by extension, their work contributes to the development of healthy communities. In addition to day to day activities apprentices take culinary field trips to conferences, culinary competitions and other culinary educational programs. These trips expose the apprentices to the world outside of their range of experiences. By taking them out of their familiar environment, we seek to change their view of the world and expand their sense of what is possible for them.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My first love affair was with food. When I was 3 I discovered a fig that had fallen on the ground in our back yard. It was a burst of flavor that I didn’t know existed and from that moment on I was catapulted into the every day search for the most delicious thing that I could eat.

My mother was a great cook, trying out new recipes every week. Once she made a cake that I loved and I wanted 2 pieces. She wouldn’t let me have it, so I asked her to teach me how to make it. And I did for the next Sunday dinner, thinking that if I made it I would surely be allowed to have 2 pieces. That didn’t work but it did earn me the spot of making the Sunday dessert every week. I was six years old.

Food is my passion and young people being introduced to good food and locally grown, farm fresh food is an extension of that passion.

What is your role in the organization?

I am the founder of Worth Our Weight LTD and its executive director

What achievement are you most proud of?

My ability to connect with, support, train and encourage young people in their journey toward adulthood.

What is your biggest challenge today?

Fundraising

What is the next major project either under way or on the horizon?

We are beginning a farm at Paradise Ridge Winery. It is a big undertaking but I am thrilled about it.

How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?

The food industry is rapidly changing. Some days I feel like an old woman, but I am very proud of the young chefs and how they are creating in the industry.

Most admired businessperson outside your organization: Walter Byck

QUICK TAKES

Current reading: Notorious RBG- Ruth Bader Ginsberg; Chef by Jaspreet Singh

Most want to meet: President Obama

Stress relievers: Cooking, walking Spring Lake

Favorite hobbies: Baking, Reading, Light Hikes in Yosemite, Listening to the young people at Worth Our Weight talk about food

Evelyn Cheatham

FOUNDER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

WORTH OUR WEIGHT LTD

AWARD CATEGORY: EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP

AGE: 60+

RESIDENCE: SANTA ROSA

PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: CHEF EDUCATOR

STAFF: 5 AND TONS OF VOLUNTEERS

Social media you most use: Facebook, snapchat

Buzz word from your industry you hate the most: Not a word but I hate mint leaves on my plate when I eat out. It’s so 80s

Typical day at the office: Busy Busy Busy…cooking, answering questions, demonstrations, answering the phone, booking caterings…never ends

Best place to work outside of the office: Home

Words that best describe you: Funny, driven, unstoppable, irreverent