Staff Spotlight: Carl Holt

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Staff Spotlight: Carl Holt

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Working in a small business such as Jack's Shop Kitchen, the staff gets to know each other very quickly. Through the high turnover of the restaurant business, there are few that truly stand out. You may recognize the man above as Carl Holt, our lead bus boy. Carl has been an essential team member to the staff for over a year, and has been a reliable and steady employee. Carl is attending Piedmont Virginia Community College; we said goodbye to him this week so that he can focus on school and transfer next year. We asked Carl a few questions about his time here at Jack's Shop Kitchen before he left:

How long have you worked at Jack's Shop Kitchen?

"Like my official first bussing day? Or first training day? Let's say first shift. First official shift was Wednesday, July 13, 2016. The heart of summer."

Favorite part of the day?

"Oh my gosh *sighs*. I would probably say my favorite part of the day is the start of the work day - once my opening duties are out of the way and I can truly bust into my busser form. I also just like coming in and saying hello to everybody I'm working with for the day. Definitely the beginning of the day."

Favorite bussing duty? 

"The satisfaction of cleaning a table, once the table is turned and brand new. I enjoy saying, 'This table is done. On to the next.' or whatever other task I have coming forth."

Least favorite bussing duty?

"Cleaning the bathrooms."

Favorite day of the week?

"Wow. I don't know if I have one. This is a toughie because, you know, we used to have dinner shifts, so I have to take that into account as well. I'm going to go with a Sunday."

You would occasionally expo. Do you prefer bussing or expo? Why?

"I'm going to give you a long answer. I enjoy expo-ing more: at first it was so challenging to me that I was so nervous, but once I got the hang of it, I really enjoyed doing it. I learned a lot and the opportunity to be an expo was really fun. Although, I would add that bussing is something that I'm always satisfied with because I know that when I do it, it's going to be done properly."

Favorite item on the menu?

"The grilled spankin' cheese. Not the grown up grilled cheese, the kid's grilled cheese! With a side of parmesan fries."

Any menu hacks?

"I'm not the person to ask for this, there is no expertise. Add butter."

Favorite staff meal?

"Cheese fries - New Years Eve and Valentine's Day were great days. OH, and grilled cheese waffle."

What's a little known fact about you?

"I have two pet frogs, named Frogerto Roberto and Fredrik Von Hausen." 

You are also a pretty sentimental person; what items have you held onto/taken for your personal keepsake?

"Yeah, obviously gotta start with my first clock-in and out slip, and the slip with the most hours I've ever worked in a week; along with other things such as pictures taken and made for me: a man-bun drawing, a drinking glass, a plastic silverware set with stamps. But the clock-in and out slip is the most important."

Classic Carl-isms:

"Chicken tendees." "You do you."

Most memorable co-worker:

"Larry. He was one of the first people I ever got to work with. My first job, a new environment, I didn't know anybody. He was the first person to greet me with kindness; he was a stand-up guy. We had some solid conversations about life. He was like 60 years old, and he became a role model to me in this place quickly. He didn't complain, he did his job every day, and he did it well. What got to me was he genuinely cared about you as a person. It meant a lot to me."

Most memorable day or moment:

"First day - everything was new and a learning experience. Everything was kind of surreal. And the last day."

What will you miss the most?

"Working with everybody, as cheesy as it is. I really enjoy working with people in general but especially here. So cheesy, but it's so true."

What are you looking forward to the most?

"Not having to do anything so early in the morning. I am a night owl and I like to sleep in. That is what I'm looking forward to the most, is not having to get up and clean bathrooms at 9 am."

What are your plans now?

"To focus on school and get good grades so I can transfer to either VCU or JMU next fall." 

You do you, Carl. Best of luck!

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Summer Farewell


Summer Farewell

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Mexican Sweet Corn

Serves:  Appetizer for 4-6 people

This summer at Jack’s Shop Farm, it seemed to be the season of two corns.  We planted fairly early in the summer and picked the first batch a tad late.  It had gone starchy and very unpleasant to eat.  Disappointed we were not going to be able to taste the fresh, picked-that-day flavor of sweet corn, we tried to squeeze in a late planting.  It was going to be a tight squeeze before the first expected frost, but we had to go for it.  Our children often play in the garden, picking whatever they can reach.  It is an open forum where we have but one rule:  “You pick it- you eat it.”  One of the kids brought over a very young ear of corn, and as I was about to jump into scolding mode, I recalled our gardening guideline.  We peeled the skin back, removed the baby corn and both took a nibble.  The first sensation completely dispelled any parallel to those canned corn in Chinese buffets.  Sweet, tender and so fresh, we harvested the whole crop that night.

Mexican street corn can be a real treat with its balance of sweet, creamy and spicy.  Traditionally done with mature corn on the cob, it’s grilled and coated in mayonnaise and a Mexican cheese called cotija.  Usually served on a stick, it can also be hard to approach with its awkward messiness.  The baby corn was a perfect substitute, as once prepared, you eat the whole thing, cob and all!

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12 ea Baby Corn

2 tbsp Olive Oil

Salt to taste

½ cup Mayo

½ cup Cotija Cheese

1 tbsp Smoked Paprika

2 tbsp Cilantro, chopped

1 ea Lime wedges




  1. Clean ears of corn by removing skin and silk, pull ear off of any remaining stalk.  Coat in olive oil and season with salt.

  2. Grill over high-heat for 4-6 minutes, turning occasionally, until brown on all sides.  Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

  3. While still warm, lightly coat the corn with mayo, and sprinkle with cheese until fully coated.  Dust with Smoked Paprika.

  4. Serve on a large tray, sprinkled with chopped cilantro and lime wedges.

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Summertime Jam


Summertime Jam

You can't pick your neighbors, but you can pick your neighbor's fruit! A classic summer past-time - picking your own fruit. Whether it's a berry patch or an orchard, You-Pick farms are common around central Virginia. Though the season is mostly over for berries and stone fruit, apple picking season is just beginning!  

Jack took a trip to Kipps Grape Orchard last week and picked 54 lbs of concord grapes! He made a small batch of grape jam available for purchase in the restaurant, and has shared the recipe below. As children go back to school, this is the perfect way to squeeze in that last little taste of summer. 

If you have yet to visit any of these farms, check out the apple picking this fall, and be sure to put them on your list of activities for next summer! 

You-Pick Orchards in Central Virginia: 

  • Kipps Grapes
  • Yowell Farm
  • Sunrise Gardens
  • Liberty Mills Farm
  • The Market at Grelen
  • Graves Mountain
  • Carter Mountain 
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Concord Grape Jam

Serves:  15 – 12 oz jars

My family seems to have started a tradition for Labor Day weekend.  For the past few years, it has happened that the peak ripeness of the grapes at Kipps Orchard in Madison Virginia, fall on the long holiday weekend.  Our 3 children alone picked 54 pounds this year.  What better way to reward their toil than to make grape jelly.  Our favorite pectin to use is Pomona’s Pectin, which comes with a packet of monocalcium phosphate powder.  Don’t like the sound of that?  Don’t worry, it is a food-grade mineral source used throughout the food world and also occurs in small quantities in many of the fruits and vegetables you will be canning.  The powder, which replaces the need for much of the sugar in traditional recipes, also aids in the gelification process.  Simply dissolve ½ teaspoon of calcium powder in ½ cup of water and reserve for recipe.  The outcome is a healthier, fruitier preserve that avoids the teeth-clenching sweetness of those other jars.



15#         Concord Grapes 

3 ea        Lemons, zest and juice 

4 tbsp    Calcium Water

4 cups    Sugar

4 tbsp    Pectin Powder


  1. Pick grapes from the vine, wash and allow to drip dry.  In a large pot combine grapes, lemon zest and juice, calcium water and half of the sugar.

  2. Crush grapes with your hands allowing them to release their juices.  Let stand for 15-20 minutes.

  3. Mix remaining amount of sugar with pectin powder and reserve.  This step will prevent the pectin from clumping when added to jelly.

  4. Place pot with grapes on stove and turn heat to medium high.  Stir frequently as grapes begin to simmer.  Continue simmering for 20-30 minutes, while skimming foam from the top.

  5. Add the pectin-sugar mixture and stir until dissolved.  Continue to simmer for an additional 20 minutes.

  6. To test consistency of jam, place a small bowl in the freezer.  When cold, pour a spoonful of jam into the bowl and allow to cool.

  7. When desired thickness is reached, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

  8. Follow proper canning procedures for water bath canning of high-acid foods.

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