Contestant Reflects on ‘Next Great Baker’


DATE POSTED: 12/17/12 11:22 AM

Last year, Melissa Payne, owner of Couture Cake Creations and co-owner of Sweets Couture in Chesterfield County, tried out for TLC’s Next Great Baker. After not being chosen as a contestant on season two, she decided to try one more time and was hand-picked by Buddy Valastro, star of theCake Boss, to compete on the show for this season.

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Amour Shows Some Love

Amour Wine Bistro in Carytown wants to show its appreciation for Jo and Rob Pendergraph of Manakintowne Specialty Growers for the fresh produce they provide year-round. “The Farm Table” event on Wednesday (Dec. 5) beginning at 5:30 p.m. will include a four-course meal prepared by chef Rob Hamlin as well as wine pairings.

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Dine Out, Help Others

A few Richmond chefs will be heating up the food scene on Monday (Nov. 19) to benefit hurricane relief and local food security efforts. Heritage restaurant will have a Hurricane Sandy Relief Fundraiser, with proceeds from the event going to the Stephen Siller Foundation, which will distribute the funds to families in need in New York and New Jersey.

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A World of Possibilities

Sitting at a small table on the edge of Ellwood Thompson’s Local Market patio on a crisp fall afternoon, Ingrid Schatz, the new bakery manager, describes her passion for making French macarons.

Schatz grew up traveling the world, from Russia to the Dominican Republic. She began her career as a pastry chef after spending three years working in finance and marketing in London, where she baked for friends on the side. It wasn’t until she told her mother about her dreams of becoming a pastry chef that her mother revealed that Schatz comes from a long line of Swedish bakers, including her great-grandfather and his brother.

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Downtown garden to produce fresh produce for soup kitchens

EDITOR’S NOTE: This semester has partnered with VCU’s School of Mass Communications “iPadJournos” mobile and social media journalism project.  Those VCU students reported the following story.

By Alix Hines and Tina Irizarry (Special to

RICHMOND, Va. – W. B. Braxton-Bantu had a “meager meal” for breakfast at Conrad Soup Kitchen on a recent Sunday morning. It consisted only of a small portion of oatmeal and a cup of coffee. He said that it’s difficult for soup kitchens to provide fresh fruits and vegetables.

Braxton-Bantu is just one of the hundreds of people living around Richmond without knowing where their next meal will come from and how nutritious it will be. But Green Unity, a VCU student organization, wants to change that. The students are planning a community garden next to the Larrick Student Center on the MCV Campus that will provide fresh produce to the Central Virginia Food Bank and local soup kitchens.

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VCU Swipes Student Meals

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011 | Filed under News | Posted by News Editor

VCU swipes student meals

Contributing Writer Alix Hines

After five months of waiting for the reintroduction of the round-shaped breakfast food to VCU’s meal plan, students who were originally told Einstein Bros. Bagels would open in the fall of 2010 were still thrilled despite the delay.

With the opening of the breakfast food chain, students once again anticipated having a delicious bagel breakfast courtesy of the Meal Exchange Program.

Photo by Alix Hines
Photo by Alix Hines

“Alpine used to swipe in the morning when it’s breakfast time,” said sophomore Ekta Patel. “I’d rather have swipes during breakfast time than during dinner time.”

However, Einstein Bros. Bagels do not accept swipes in the morning. Dining Sales and Services manager Tamara Highsmith explained that swipes are not offered at Einstein Bros. Bagels in the morning to allow customers paying with cash or credit to purchase a bagel at that time as well.

Highsmith added that only 25 percent of VCU students have a meal plan, so Dining Services must find a way to meet the needs of all students.

“We’ve seen it at Quiznos and we see it at Nao and Zen,” said Dan McDonald, assistant director of Business Services. “During those swipe periods, the line gets so long that if I’m one of those 75 percent of folks that want to make a purchase, I can’t or I won’t because the line is so long.”

Although swipes encourage more people with meal plans to participate in the Meal Exchange Program, students with cash or meal plans flock to VCU dining areas at fairly normal meal times, and students with meal plans are demanding more choices.

For breakfast, VCU offers the Meal Exchange Program at Subway and Pizza Hut. Shafer also offers breakfast, but many students prefer the ease of grabbing breakfast at Market 810-2-Go.

“I think the food at Einstein is much better than Subway breakfast,” said freshman Janie Milliron. “It’s just personal preference I would say.”

The prospects of adding Einstein Bagels to the morning Meal Exchange Program may be grim, but the future of breakfast at VCU is a bright one.

“We are looking at whether it would be too competitive with Einstein to bring a bagel product into Market 810-2-Go that students could use a block at that location,” Highsmith said. “I can’t tell you if it’s going to happen or not, but we’re looking into it.”

VCU also plans to add more breakfast options for students next semester with IHOP, Raising Cane’s and Croutons. Each of these food outlets will be included in the Meal Exchange Program that allows students to use swipes at certain times of the day.

As for the future plans for VCU dining, Highsmith said, “We are just encouraged and excited about the upcoming locations and the increased flexibility for students to continue to use dining plans in our new locations.”