Category Archives: Mentions & Coverage

Local woman raising funds for Filipino fusion café

LAUNCH entrepreneur Angie Adams is raising money for a Filipino fusion café in Chattanooga.

Adams moved from the Philippines when she was 8 years old. She’s been in the United States for most of her life, and she spent a lot of that time learning how to cook American food, she said.

“I learned quite a bit of the American side, and the Filipino part is from my culture-[I’m] fusing those two,” she said.

The Philippines is made up of more than 7,000 islands, all of which have been colonized by different countries, Adams said. So Filipino food has influences from an array of places. Through her new business, Calamansi Cafe, she wants to expose Chattanooga to those foods.

“I’d like to be able to have a cultural, ethnic food place and for people to be able to taste [foods] from the different places, such as India and Spain and even France,” she said.

The new café aims to appeal to all people-Filipinos, Americans, foodies, tourists, locals, students, singles, families and business travelers, she also said.

“We will provide a place of not only good food but a place to feel at home,” Adams said.

After participating in a LAUNCH business class, Adams has been catering and holding pop-up restaurant events, which have been well-received, she said.

She’s been building support and finding there’s a desire for different types of food in the area.

Adams is also raising money via Kiva, which is a microfinance nonprofit.

LAUNCH leaders recommended Kiva to Adams.

In a blog post, LAUNCH leaders explain the benefits of Kiva.

“Kiva makes it possible for a micro business owner to get a loan of up to $10,000 at 0 percent interest over a maximum of three years,” according to LAUNCH. “Their reasoning is that if a person is able to get up to 35 friends and family members to lend them $25 or more, then the person has proven to be of the right character, and Kiva can ask the world (literally) to consider lending the same amounts to this individual.”

Adams is looking to raise $8,000.

She has 15 days left of her campaign and $6,775 to raise.

“It’s an all or nothing loan,” she said.

If she meets her goal, she’ll use the money to engage customers, buy equipment and hire employees.

“For me, when it comes to fundraising, I think it’s nice to have people feel like they are involved and not just donating,” she said. “When they put in that $25, they actually helped really see this come through. They are my business partners.”

This story was originally published on

Healthy Options, One Dish at a Time

Clean eating may have been the most buzz-worthy phrase for 2016 in foodie circles. Most thought the phrase’s meaning to be a fad or a diet that can only really be practiced by health nuts who zealously post pictures on social media of their perfectly garnished meals. But maybe it’s really not such an intimidating state of being. Ideally, it’s something anyone can practice without special skills (or Instagram-worthy photos), only with a little knowledge.

Clean eating is basically just eating well, eating more of the healthiest options in each food group and less of the not-so-healthy ones. Cleaning up a diet with nourishing, whole foods will boost one’s health, resulting in more energy and a higher resistance to disease. And in Chattanooga, clean eating doesn’t even require grocery shopping. Here are a few options that make clean eating more convenient to the public than any fast food drive-thru.

The Weekly Fig: For those who enjoy cooking
The Weekly Fig [ℹ️ City Guide] began with a few friends who went from grower to grower, visited farmers markets and investigated each not-so-convenient step to gather the community’s best foods for their own pantry. They were successful, but the process was never easy, until they created The Weekly Fig.

“It’s our desire to feed our families with healthy, whole foods, and with so many resources here in Chattanooga, we just wanted to find a way to share that with the community,” says Michele Reneau, The Weekly Fig Co-Founder.

img_6411So, they created The Weekly Fig. Partnering with local Chattanooga area farmers, the company provides its members with delicious, nutrient-dense foods, delivered right to their doorstep. During the local growing season each week, members receive a veggie bag filled with a seasonal variety of produce picked at peak ripeness, plus other foods—meats, dairy and breads which can also be added via The Weekly Fig’s online market.

“The first hurdle for folks is trying to understand what eating clean means and where to get it,” Reneau says. “So we created The Weekly Fig in an attempt to source the foods ourselves—we do all of the vetting. The second reason we created The Weekly Fig is to reduce the hurdle of inconvenience, and so we provide home delivery.”

Clean eating does not necessarily have to be organic, but for The Weekly Fig members, all produce delivered is organic—no chemicals, unnatural environments for the animals and little to no processing. These are factors that will certainly enhance clean eating efforts.

“We believe that organic or clean eating will really help eliminate epidemic health issues,” Reneau says. “When taking into account the cost of eating organic, the savings on future health issues should be considered as well. If we can spend the money up front now, and learn some minor skills to cook healthy foods at home and eat them in the most natural form, the long term benefits will be realized.”

Energizing the local agriculture economy to boot, The Weekly Fig purchases between 5,000 to 6,000 pounds of produce each week. During the first three quarters of 2016, local farmers were paid over $120,000 for their goods. According to an earlier study conducted by local non-profit Gaining Ground, if everyone in Chattanooga spent five percent of their food budget on local food, the local economy would increase by $100 million.

dsc04986Members of The Weekly Fig can add fresh baked breads, savory meats or crisp, ripe fruits and vegetables to their order. To get started, customers pay a $35 membership fee, choose the size of their weekly box (typically based on the number of people in a household), and then explore the market from the comfort of their own home.

Vibrant Meals: For those who prefer someone else to do the cooking.
When Romana De Angelis was competing as an All-American track hurdler in Southern California, she began to realize that nutrition truly had an impact on her performance. She leaped into clean eating wholeheartedly and began pinpointing meals that truly gave her an edge on the track. She then went on to body building, dropping her body fat down to eight percent, all while continuing to master her nutrition. Several UFC (Ultimate Fighters Championship) fighters, who trained in the same gym as Romana, noticed her body composition success and connected that, not only to her gym efforts, but to her Instagram posting which showed off her delectable meals. They asked her for help with their own nutrition plan. De Angelis then realized she could not only help herself and her gym mates, but an entire community.

“I decided to take a risk and provide my meal prep recipes that helped me through my journey of fitness and health. I made the move to Chattanooga, where I knew it wasn’t saturated like California,” De Angelis says. “It’s been an exciting journey, and I continue to work on making Vibrant Meals delicious, effortless and easy for the Chattanooga community.”

For those who have the desire to eat healthy, but not the time or interest to research, shop and cook, Vibrant Meals [ℹ️ City Guide] may be a solution. There are two options for ordering: Meals-To-Go gives customers an opportunity to pick and choose single meals to have delivered during the week. These take 48 hours to process and prepare. So, if a customer is craving the crowd favorite, spaghetti squash marinara, they can place an order on Monday to have it delivered to their work on Wednesday for lunch. The more popular option, however, is Vibrant Meal’s weekly meal plans.

“We have an option of five meals, (most often a customer gets lunches for the whole week), 10 meals for lunch and dinner (Monday through Friday), and lastly our 14-meal lunch and dinner plan for Monday through Sunday,” De Angelis says. “We deliver twice a week for the meal plans to keep the food fresh.”

sprout-boxMeals include gourmet options like chicken pesto with cherry tomatoes and barley, beef and kale stir-fry with cauliflower rice and Chinese chicken salad. De Angelis tops each dish with “a touch of love” so that the meal is not only delectable, but also presentable. All meals are portioned in accordance with the customer’s goals, body type and lifestyle.

Although De Angelis doesn’t currently offer breakfast and snack options, she suggests filling the gaps with items like fruit, nuts, carrots and hummus, peanut butter, cucumbers soaked in water (aids appetite control), tea and water.

“People should understand what our food products contain, including the chemicals that we’re putting in our body from processed foods,” De Angelis says. “It’s a balance that will benefit not only your physical shape, but the mind as well! Look to the next day, and say ‘I have the choice.’ Nourishing the body is how we must think. Eat to live instead of live to eat; it’s a balance of both enjoyment and nutrition.”

Story by Sarah Turner
Photography courtesy of Vibrant Meals

This story was originally published in the January/February 2017 issue of the Chattanooga Magazine

Chattanooga has a Kitchen of its Own

Look out! A new fully equipped, licensed and permitted commercial kitchen facility is being introduced to the Chattanooga community. Designed to provide local food entrepreneurs, food trucks and local farms access to a low-cost, 24- hour facility where they can safely and legally manufacture value-added food products, this cutting-edge, shared kitchen provides new opportunities and fills a gap.

Located at the First Tennessee Pavilion, and operated by Public Markets, Chattanooga Kitchen, provides an affordable option for bakers, food producers and caterers, and a commissary to the growing number of producers in our community. The community based kitchen is comprised of high quality common-use cooking areas, refrigeration, dry storage areas, along with a full range of commercial kitchen equipment. Members have access to hourly rental of the facility and the equipment. In addition to use by local food businesses, the Chattanooga Kitchen will also be available to local organizations and food producers who are interested in hosting workshops and cooking classes. The facility is available to rent for single or shared use.

A brainchild of Paul Smith, Executive Director of the Finley Stadium Complex, Chattanooga Kitchen could not have been created without the help of Chris Thomas, Executive Director of Public Markets, Inc. says Smith. The idea of a commercial kitchen has been in the making for the past few years. The only thing holding them back was where to put the facility. Smith and Thomas looked at a few places downtown, but put the idea on hold. In December 2013, Smith took over Finely Stadium as manager and shortly after in late 2014, a catering company located at the First Tennessee Pavilion left, leading to the idea for Chattanooga Kitchen to be brought back to light. Funded initially by Benwood Foundation, the Chattanooga Kitchen opened its doors in August.

“We wanted to create something that would last,” says Smith. “We’re hoping that Chattanooga Kitchen will bring out those intelligent, talented people in the community who want to make their dreams come true by following an idea and seeing if they can create their own business. Chattanooga Kitchen is here to help them.”

Smith’s goal for the kitchen space is for it to become a major role in the community for entrepreneurs and to introduce a new audience to the Finley campus. “We have our Mocs football fans, our CFC soccer fans, and our Chattanooga Market visitors but this is a great opportunity to bring in a new crowd that will bring everyone together with the common interest of food,” says Smith.

Katie Pagnani, Public Markets’s Special Project Manager, is excited to take on this notable task. “We are excited to introduce the Chattanooga Kitchen because of our commitment to providing small businesses and entrepreneurs a low-cost environment to start, grow, and expand their businesses,” says Pagnani. “Both the Chattanooga Market and the Chattanooga Workspace have been successful ventures, and we are looking forward to expanding our offerings to include a location and assistance specific to local food entrepreneurs.”

Lannie Harte who makes a line of jams, jellies, marinara sauce and a fresh line of salsa plans to use the kitchen to teach a class twice a month. “My heart and soul is connected with this forward thinking concept,” says Harte. “I wanted to be one of the first in the kitchen to support local and fresh products.”

Another Chattanooga Kitchen member is Jeff Sweeney, owner of Sweeney Sweets. He recently moved to Chattanooga from Montgomery, Alabama and is excited to continue his 30-year experience with candy making.

“It’s amazing that so soon after relocating to the area, I am able to take advantage of this resource that Chattanooga has to offer me,” says Sweeney. “I inherited the love of candy making from my mother, and grandmother, and I can share my talents through the utilization of a space where I can cook and possibly do shows commercially.”

Chattanooga Kitchen includes the following equipment:

  • Two Convection Ovens
  • Two Convection Steamers
  • Southbend 36” Radiant Broiler
  • 6 Burner Gas Range with Conventional Oven
  • Two Pitco Fryers with removable tank covers
  • Star Ultra-Max 24” Radiant Gas Char-Broiler
  • Star Ultra-Max 36” Griddle
  • Mounted Pot Rack
  • Single-Door Reach in Freezer
  • Continental Double Door Reach-In Refrigerator
  • Vulcan Heating/Proofing Cabinet
  • Two, Three Compartment Sinks
  • One Produce Sink
  • Three Stainless Steel Worktables

Potential members can fill out an application on the Chattanooga Kitchen website, http://Chattanooga.Kitchen

This story was originally published by Chattanooga Magazine.