Personality: Amory M. James
Spotlight on chef, manager of FeedMore Community Kitchen
5/22/2015, 11:40 a.m. | Updated on 5/22/2015, 2:49 p.m.
Chef Amory M. James, food production manager of the FeedMore Community Kitchen, his staff and volunteers cooked up something extra special this week.
They prepared the 7 millionth meal provided by Meals on Wheels in Central Virginia since the program was founded in 1967. Community volunteers deliver meals to homebound seniors, the disabled and chronically ill people in Richmond and surrounding communities who are unable to prepare meals for themselves.
Chef James, 35, helped deliver the record-setting meal of shaved rib-eye steak, spinach soufflé, honey-glazed carrots, a whole wheat roll and layer cake with icing to a homebound 102-year-old resident of the Lakeside community in Henrico County.
Louise Tramontin, 97, who has volunteered with Meals on Wheels since its inception, helped deliver the meal on Tuesday.
Chef James says he was thrilled to help lead the historic occasion.
“I’m blessed to be able to provide nutritious, scratch cooked meals and I’m ready to see 7 million more,” he humbly declares.
He also praises those who assist him each day in the Community Kitchen at the FeedMore complex, 1601 Rhoadmiller St. on Richmond’s North Side.
“Many accolades should be given to my staff of 12 and countless volunteers who contribute their all on a daily basis,” the Chesterfield County resident says.
In 2005, Meals on Wheels of Central Virginia and the Central Virginia Food Bank came together to build the Community Kitchen to produce meals for their clients. The collaboration led to a formal merger of the two organizations, creating FeedMore in 2008.
Currently, according to FeedMore officials, the group helps more than 200,000 children, families and senior citizens each month in Central Virginia.
When Meals on Wheels started nearly 50 years ago, it served eight clients. Now, it serves about 700 people each day in an area that extends from Ashland to Petersburg and from Charles City to Louisa counties.
Chef James oversees recipe and menu development for Meals on Wheels of the 1,300 meals that are prepared each day. He also oversees the production and staffing arrangements. Kitchen personnel work weekdays from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Through FeedMore, he also oversees food preparation for Kids Café, an after-school food program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture; four adult day care centers; and The Daily Planet’s respite care operation near Virginia Commonwealth University.
Chef James describes the variety of meals his kitchen prepares as “homestyle specialties with a variety of cuisines from around the world.”
He says he’s inspired by “the smile of the person who is able to sleep in their bed tonight because they had a delicious meal to eat.”
He estimates he’s helped prepare more than 700,000 meals since he began working with FeedMore two years ago. He says he cannot “imagine not having a service like this for the seniors in our communities.”
When he’s not preparing meals, Chef James serves as an associate minister at New Direction Evangelistic Church in Chesterfield County.
Here’s a look at this week’s Personality, Chef Amory M. James:
Date and place of birth: June 24 in Titusville, Fla.
Current home: Chesterfield County.
Alma mater: Culinary arts degree and food and beverage management degree, Florida Culinary Institute.
Family: Wife, Rhonda, and children, Dontay and Asia.
How many years have you worked with FeedMore: Two years.
FeedMore’s mission: To fight hunger in Central Virginia by nourishing the community and empowering lives.
FeedMore is important because: It bridges the gap for those who are food insecure by allowing them access to nutritious food when they would have no provisions any other way.
Communities in which FeedMore operates: 29 cities and five counties throughout Central Virginia.
Services provided include: Agency shopping to stock food pantries, mobile food pantries for food deserts, Meals on Wheels, after-school feeding programs, summer feeding programs, adult day care food service.
Your culinary background: Several hotels, country clubs and restaurants in South Florida, as well as food service at several colleges and universities and health care facilities.
Foremost challenge with FeedMore: No challenges; I just see them as opportunities to become greater. The biggest opportunity is acquiring resources to reach more people in need.
How volunteers can become involved: Call FeedMore’s Volunteer Services Department and they will help find an opportunity best suited for you that supports our mission.
How do you relate your role as FeedMore chef to that of being an associate minister: I see both as a service of helping those in need — one being physical needs and the other spiritual.
What makes me tick: Knowing that God has blessed me with another day to serve his purpose.
A perfect day: Waking up!
A perfect evening: Knowing that I’ve helped someone today because it may be my last.
How I unwind: Reading the Bible, playing PS3, and watching the Atlanta Braves or “Swamp People” on TV.
I place top value on: My relationship with Jesus Christ, my wife and my family.
Best late-night snack: Waffle House food.
Favorite meal I have prepared: Whatever meal I don’t have to cook!
Person who influenced me the most: Other than Jesus, it would be my grandfather, Deacon Amos Lewis.
The book that influenced me the most: “Where the Sidewalk Ends” by Shel Silverstein.
My next goal: Is dependent on how I finish the current goal.