In the ever-evolving world of meat choices, there are certain thresholds that must be met. While ideal, not every burger can come from a cow raised in your neighbor's back yard. But if you don't source your own beef, at least you can grind and press your own patties. That's a lesson that the masters at Life's Kitchen wish to pass onto their chef understudies.
"For some kids in the program, a hamburger is what comes out of a frozen box," said Life's Kitchen kitchen manager Ryan Hembree. That's a sentiment Life's Kitchen quickly quashes.
Life's Kitchen is a food/life development program for youth in trouble. So Hembree and Chef Maggie Kiefer teach students to grind, season and press their own burgers. In the final phase of the 16-week program, Life's Kitchen students prepare the food at their three-day-a-week cafe, which is open to the public Wednesday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
After preparing the ground beef--seasoned with onion, garlic, salt and pepper--the students top it with sharp cheddar and thick-cut bacon. Then they throw a large, slightly runny fried egg on top, and stick it on a multi-grain roll with some mixed greens and a side of fries (that they also cut themselves).
While the program itself is a life-changing experience, giving at-risk youth a new lease on life, the egg- and bacon-draped burger will remind any at-risk diner that whenever life's rudder is loosened from that sturdy grip, just add bacon and eggs.