Photos and video footage by Gerardo Caballero
The mission of Project Good is near and dear to our hearts. Born out of a time of uncertainty, Project Good pays tribute to heroes who are going above and beyond to put others’ needs above their own. We are so excited to share a new Project Good story featuring a professional chef and all around food expert, Andrew Forlines, who is helping his local community garden provide food to those who would otherwise go hungry.
Looking at Chef Andrew’s resume, you’ll find a chef who is at the forefront of elevating the fine dining experience, but his love for food and cooking come from a passionate desire to help others. Whether he’s teaching others how to cook tasty food in their home or helping his community have access to quality food, Chef Andrew’s heart to serve is what Project Good seeks to honor.
In the spirit of Project Good, we sent Chef Andrew a Solo Stove Grill to help him make tasty, flame-grilled fare for a recent fundraising dinner benefitting his local community garden. Read on to hear his story.
When did your love for cooking begin?
I’ve been cooking since I was a child. I grew up cooking for my family, and I started to love cooking after I started learning from my grandma and mom. My mom taught me a lot about what not to do. (laughs)
As a teenager, I found my way into working in kitchens. I was fortunate to be living in Colorado Springs at the time. There you have the Broadmoor Hotel, which is the longest running five-star dining hotel in the country. I joined their three-year apprenticeship program to get my culinary certificate. After eight years of working at the Broadmoor, I was running one of their smaller restaurants, The Golden Bee.
My love for cooking technology bloomed after I spent a year in Chicago working and learning in restaurants experimenting with molecular gastronomy. I’ve always been a bit of an appliance and technology dork, so working in Chicago at that time was fascinating to me. I got to bring those techniques back to the Broadmoor.
But, I’ve always been driven by food’s ability to bring people together. That’s why I’m working now in the residential clients industry, teaching people how to use high-end, restaurant quality cooking appliances in their homes.
How did you get involved with The Table?
I started helping out The Table just as an enthusiastic volunteer. They’ve been involved in the community for eight or nine years, I believe. They grow food in community members’ yards to teach people about gardening with a completely volunteer-driven mission. They also distribute everything they grow to those in the community who need tasty, homegrown food.
Up until recently, they used to send out their volunteers on bikes called “veggie bikes.” It’s actually a wooden wagon they put all the produce in and attach to a bike. It’s like a veggie vendor, you know, (laughs) with all the baskets and boxes and things. But now, they have their own building where they give out food on Tuesdays and Saturdays. That’s how I learned about the Table. I was walking with my daughter around the neighborhood, and I saw a sign advertising the times for their food giveaways.
I knew I had to get involved, so I struck up a conversation with them. I found out they were trying to build their own little coffee shop and an education kitchen where they can start teaching members of the community more about cooking. I was so excited, because this is what I’m all about, bringing people together and making things happen. I’m glad to be able to help them with their cooking education program.
Tell us more about your recent fundraiser dinner for the Table!
Yeah! It was so much fun (laughs). I helped with one of their Farm to Table Dinners they’ve been doing for the last three years. We set aside some of the gardens’ bounty and create a fine-dining style meal using those ingredients. Members of the community can buy a, you know, generously (laughs) priced ticket to the meal to help raise money and awareness for the organization. We served about forty people in a large backyard. All the tables were spaced out to stay socially distant with this really beautiful setup.
The Table brought their volunteers, and I called up a couple of my chef buddies to come help. Actually, (laughs) one of my friends that came to help out I hadn’t seen in, like, twelve years. We worked years ago at the Broadmoor. So, it all feels like it came full circle.
You got to use the Solo Stove Grill at the dinner! What was the experience like?
Like I said before, I’m fascinated by cooking technology. What I love about the Grill is that it’s able to get the right cooking temperature very quickly and maintain it with very little, how should I say it, fussiness. (laughs) There’s no cooking appliance that can do everything. Everyone thinks of Back to the Future, when they are looking for some piece of cooking tech. They want to just throw everything on it and BOOM everything is perfectly done. What I see with the Grill is that it focuses on cooking food at the right temperature very quickly and doing it with precision and control.
There were a lot of constraints on how I could cook at the dinner, but I brought the Grill and everything worked beautifully because it had that airflow. I wasn’t constantly having to shift vents and worry if the charcoal wasn’t going to light properly. But it lit up well, developed a great heat, and we were able to sear fresh eggplant, summer squash, and short ribs really easily.
What advice would you give to someone who is looking for ways to give back to their community but don’t know where to start?
The important thing is that, no matter where you are, there are lots of people who are already doing stuff to help. The best way is just to keep your eyes open, look around and see what needs there are and if there are people out there who are working to fill that need.
What’s your favorite thing about cooking for others?
There’s always something gained, even if it’s just by the act of bringing people together. Even if people don’t necessarily get along, I think there is something that is created between people when they share a meal. It’s worth my effort cultivating an inviting dining experience, so interactions can happen between people that could lead to something else that’s beneficial either for them or their community.
Follow these links to learn more about Chef Andrew, The Table, and the Solo Stove Grill!
- Chef Andrew Forlines
- The Table — Since 2011, The Table has donate over 40,000 pounds of food grown in their fifteen community gardens to those in need. As Chef Andrew mentioned, they are expanding their operations. If you are in the Denver metro area, reach out to The Table and get involved with this inspiring, much needed service to the community!
- Solo Stove Grill