From the culinary industry, to feeding the most vulnerable, using the talents they know.
Chef Matt DeAngulo and Amanda DeLotelle, co-workers at the former Citilites restaurant in the Schuster Center, have reunited for a new project — SBT Chefs.
“SBT Chefs is the brainchild of Chef DeAngulo,” DeLotelle, the Executive Director of Set the Banquet Table shared. “Shortly after the outbreak of COVID-19, DeAngulo recruited chefs and cooks for a pilot project of feeding the hungry in the Miami Valley. “Our current efforts are focused on building a bulk inventory of nutritious meals as a support for organizations that are already feeding the hungry.”
Both DeAngulo and DeLotelle spent several years at Citilities before its shutdown in January 2020 with DeAngulo being the Executive Chef for more than four years and DeLotelle in front of house operations for six years. As COVID-19 worries became a reality, DeAngulo reached out to DeLotelle to reunite for his vision to bring together former team members from Citilites to provide meals to those needing nourishment.
“When Matt said he was getting the band back together, he wasn’t kidding,” DeLotelle said. Joining the SBT Chefs team in the kitchen have been former Citlites workers including Sous Chef, Aaron Kemp; Operations Manager, Amelia Pepper; Event Manager, Lisa Snapp; Server, Laura Joslin; Operations Supervisor, Dan August; Server, Gabe Pinti; with extra volunteer help from Catering Chef, Ben Kalis; Hospitality VP, Lisa Wagner; Server, Taylor Haynes; and Server, Ciara Owens. The culinary team is rounded out with Chef Patricio Adrade and Chef Gary O’Brien. Janice Potter, an Assistant Production Manager and former coworker from Dayton Live is joined by Kary Ellen Berger on the administrative side.
“Coming back together to do something for our community was a no-brainer,” shared Pepper. “It’s not everyday you get to do something to impact the community and be back with the same people who you enjoy being with.” “I was surrounded with people who felt from the beginning this idea was big and they were willing to volunteer their time to help out,” DeAngulo said. “It wasn’t until we were promised funding did I realize this was much more than something other than what I am doing to help during uncertain times.”
That funding has come from the Miami Valley Community Action Partnership – funds that have secured SBT Chefs to continue running operations for at least a full year. CAP has grouped SBT Chefs with other local institutions for a new organization called Miami Valley Meals — an umbrella project including SBT Chefs, St. Vincent de Paul, The Foodbank, Life Enrichment Center and other local non-profits focused on feeding the hungry in the Miami Valley.
“We have work to do as a community to address food insecurity and I feel like the collaboration of Miami Valley Meals is a positive move forward that will have lasting impact beyond the pandemic,” DeLotelle stated. Kemp shared, “I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this, to know that something that we do has an impact on hundreds of people. I am totally blown away by how big the project has become. It has been very humbling to be a part of something to offer comfort and some stability to those not always thought about during these times of uncertainty.
“Looking forward and watching our impact and footprint become larger and more steadfast, that is an exciting moment. Everyone involved in this project has been nothing less than mind blowing with their dedication and energy.” SBT Chefs hopes the impact they’re currently making will only grow, both in the form of meals and outreach to others.
“Our goals are attainable but will shift and adapt as needs and regulations change,” DeLotelle explained. “When we are in guest kitchens, we have a goal to always leave the kitchen better than we found it. This may be through cleaning, sharing knowledge or gifting equipment. I think this philosophy goes beyond the kitchen. My goal is for us to better our little corner of the world through food and friendship.”
SBT Chefs is currently working on securing a building lease. The space will primarily be used for prep, storage and distribution but eventually they are hoping to hold classes, small events and create scholarship based culinary learning opportunities.
“We are creating an organization that educates, employs, reduces waste and feeds the hungry collectively from a central location,” DeAngulo said. “I also hope the community understands that SBT Chefs is a group of friends who love Dayton.” “I really feel like this is a journey for all of us,” Pepper reflected. “We are just meant to work together to better ourselves as well as the community. My hope is that we all continue to grow as a team and do all we can to impact our community in a meaningful way.”
“Last summer was very tough for Dayton,” DeLotelle added. “There were so many people hurting but there were also so many helpers. Some people were just stuck and overwhelmed, not sure how to help. I was one of those people; anxious and heavy-hearted, just frozen. Sometimes though, you link up with the right people at the right moment in time and you are able to move instead of being stuck in the anxiety and despair of it all. Both situations can happen. Be easy on yourself and when you are able, be the best helper you can be.”