News Bites: Red Stripe Names GM / Farm Fresh RI Receives BlueAngel Grant / RI Hospitality Education Foundation Rhode Island ProStart® Competition

by David Dadekian
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Current news releases—Eat Drink RI is not the source for these items—please follow any links for more information.

Red Stripe Restaurants Names Barbra Gremza General Manager

Cumberland Resident brings 20 Years of Hospitality Experience to East Greenwich Location

Barbra Gremza
Barbra Gremza

Red Stripe restaurants, located at 465 Angell Street in Providence and 455 Main Street in East Greenwich, are pleased to announce that Cumberland resident, Barbra Gremza has joined its East Greenwich location as general manager. In her new role, Barbra will assume the day-to-day operations of the bustling Main Street eatery and work alongside the culinary teams and management staff at sister restaurant in Providence.

Barbra brings more than 20 years of hospitality experience to her new role, most notably serving more than 16 years with TGI Friday’s as General Manager at eight of the brand’s restaurants in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Prior to joining Red Stripe, Barbra was General Manager of three Au Bon Pain locations in Rhode Island.

“We are thrilled to welcome Barbra to our team,” said Jim Brosseau, Director of Restaurant Operations, Encore Hospitality Group. “Her deep understanding of running successful hospitality operations and developing the skills of her team members are a true asset to our organization. We look forward to working with Barbra to further elevate the guest experience in East Greenwich.”

Barbra specializes in training and developing managers and team members at all levels and looks forward to this new opportunity. “I am excited to be with a brand and team with such great potential and I am looking forward to creating exceptional guest experiences for our friends in our community,” said Gremza.

Farm Fresh Rhode Island receives 2019 BlueAngel Community Health Grant

$22k Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island grant will help support Healthy Foods, Healthy Families program

Farm Fresh Rhode Island
Farm Fresh Rhode Island

Farm Fresh Rhode Island has received a 2019 BlueAngel Community Health Grant (BACHG) from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI). The $22,000 grant will provide parents and children with resources to shop for and prepare healthy meals through the farmers market-based education program: Healthy Foods, Healthy Families.

Since the inception of the BlueAngel Community Health Grants in 2002, BCBSRI has donated more than $3.8 million to local nonprofits, impacting 300,000 Rhode Islanders. The BACHG program is BCBSRI’s cornerstone grant program, supporting nonprofit organizations working to address critical health issues in Rhode Island. For the past five years, BACHG funding has focused on Rhode Island organizations promoting the importance of good nutrition, physical activity and healthy weight for children and their families.

“Last summer, 380+ low-income families learned about nutrition and locally grown food options with us—a majority reporting the program led to an increase in their family’s overall fruit and veggie consumption,” said Onelissa Martinez, Nutrition Education Program Manager at Farm Fresh RI. “Thanks to this BlueAngel Community Health Grant from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of RI, we will be able to empower more Rhode Island families with the information and tools to make healthy choices and invest in their health and communities.”  

Farm Fresh RI’s Healthy Foods, Healthy Families program delivers interactive food and nutrition workshops at farmers markets for families who receive federal food assistance from WIC (Women, Infant, and Children) or SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). Provided in English and Spanish, the program empowers parents and children with the tools to shop for affordable, seasonal foods and prepare them in kid-friendly ways.

“Childhood obesity is a major public health crisis in the country and in our state. In fact, Rhode Island continues to rank among the top 15 states with the highest obesity rates in children. Childhood overweight and obesity results in dangerous health impacts and significant cost impacts, and we believe we can and must do more to stem this epidemic,” said Kim Keck, president and CEO of BCBSRI. “Our support for organizations like Farm Fresh Rhode Island enables them to continue effectively addressing social and environmental factors that lead to overweight and obesity—particularly for low-income families in our state.”

According to Keck, BACHG programs underscore BCBSRI’s commitment to the state made at the company’s founding 80 years ago. “Our first 80 years were marked by ongoing efforts focused on improving the health of Rhode Islanders. Looking forward, we will reinforce and expand those efforts to passionately lead a state of health and well-being across Rhode Island. We cannot ignore the consequences of childhood obesity and its impact on public health in our state, including shortened life expectancy and billions of dollars of cost impact,” said Keck. “That’s why our continued partnerships with organizations combating obesity at the community level are so critical.”

In all, BCBSRI awarded $218,000 in BACHG funding for 2019. Funding is made available through the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island Community Health Fund maintained at the Rhode Island Foundation.

RI Hospitality Education Foundation Hosts 8th Annual Rhode Island ProStart® High School Culinary & Management Competition

William M. Davies, Jr. Career & Technical High School and East Providence Career & Technical Center to Represent Rhode Island in National Competition in Washington, D.C.

ProStart Culinary Arts Competition Winners from William M. Davies, Jr. Career & Technical High School: (From left to right): Dale J. Venturini, President/CEO of RIHA/RIHEF; Chef Instructor Santos Nieves; William M. Davies, Jr. Career & Technical High School students Ashley Fernandez, Alexia Guzman, Britney Fernandez, and Victoria Carron. Photo credit: Richard Kizirian.
ProStart Culinary Arts Competition Winners from William M. Davies, Jr. Career & Technical High School: (From left to right): Dale J. Venturini, President/CEO of RIHA/RIHEF; Chef Instructor Santos Nieves; William M. Davies, Jr. Career & Technical High School students Ashley Fernandez, Alexia Guzman, Britney Fernandez, and Victoria Carron. Photo credit: Richard Kizirian.

The RI Hospitality Education Foundation (RIHEF), in collaboration with ProStart®, recently hosted the 8th Annual Rhode Island ProStart® High School Culinary & Management Competition. 

More than 40 area professionals judged 50 students who competed in three areas: the Culinary Arts Competition, including challenges in food safety and sanitation, knife skills, a three-course meal cook-off using only two burners, teamwork/cooperation, professionalism/appearance, and plate presentation; the Food Service Management Competition featuring the presentation of a restaurant concept and business plan including design boards, floor plans, marketing plans and menu design; and a Hospitality and Tourism Management Competition which saw students develop and present unique hotel concepts including event planning, marketing and interior design elements.

As part of the competition awards, seven different colleges and universities pledged $1 million in available scholarship money to be split up amongst the winning teams.

A culinary team from William M. Davies, Jr. Career & Technical High School won the Culinary Arts portion of the competition, a food service management team from East Providence Career & Technical Center won the Food Service Management portion of the competition, and a hospitality and tourism management team from CHARIHOTech won the Hospitality and Tourism Management portion of the competition. The winners of the Culinary Arts and Food Service Management portions of the competition will now represent Rhode Island at the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s ProStart® Invitational competition in Washington, D.C. May 8-10, 2019.

“I am so proud of all the hardworking students who dedicated months of practice and preparation for this event,” said Dale J. Venturini, President/CEO of the RI Hospitality Association and the RI Hospitality Education Foundation. “It’s because of students like this that Rhode Island is nationally recognized for its outstanding culinary scene. I look forward to watching the students’ skills continue to progress and eventually become part of the skilled workforce we have here in Rhode Island.”

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