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Food & Drink: A Few Questions for Jessica Wright

Written by Melissa Pasanen on . Posted in Q&A, Taste of the Landscape

Chef-owner of Hender’s Bake Shop and Café, which opened in July in Waterbury.

Jessica Wright, chef-owner of Hender's Bake Shop and Cafe in Waterbury. Photograph by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur.

Jessica Wright, chef-owner of Hender’s Bake Shop and Cafe in Waterbury. Photograph by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur.

VL: Did you know you wanted to cook professionally from early on?
JW: In Cape Cod, where I grew up, my family owned a bed-and-breakfast and then a coffee shop, where I’d eat muffins every morning waiting for the school bus. After that, my parents catered and ran a restaurant at a golf course. I knew I wanted to go to culinary school, even though my parents tried to talk me out of it. They said, “You’ve seen our lives, how hard we work.” We basically lived at the restaurant; there was no food at home.

VL: How did you end up in Vermont?
JW: I was working in San Diego as an assistant pastry chef in a very busy place that did two concerts every night, serving a full high-end dinner each show. We’d do one dinner and then have 30 minutes to prep for the next one. It was like “Groundhog Day” every day. My sister and brother-in-law were opening a hostel in Warren and asked if I wanted to be their chef. I said yes immediately. It turned out they didn’t need a full-time chef, but I was so glad to be back near my family, and I just fell in love with Vermont: the local food movement, the healthy lifestyle.

VL: Your bake shop has a case full of sweet pastries as well as sandwiches, salads, granola and even house-baked dog treats inspired by your dog Henderson, after whom the shop is named. Any family connections to any of those recipes?
JW: Food has always been a family affair for us, cooking meals together, calling each other about new recipes.
I couldn’t have opened this place without the help of my family. My roasted turkey Thanksgiving sandwich is
in honor of one my mom always had on her golf course restaurant menu, made with from-scratch stuffing and my grandma’s recipe for cranberry sauce with apples and lemon zest. My mom’s blueberry muffin and crumb cake recipes are also really popular. My raspberry-chocolate-chip coffee cake is based on one of [my great-grandma’s] recipes. And my sister came up with the idea for my chocolate-mocha snack cakes.

VL: You make the pottery you serve on in your bake shop. How long have you been doing that?
JW: About three years ago, when I was working in Burlington, I had three days off a week and was baking too much at home. I love baking, but I was eating too much of it. A friend introduced me to a pottery studio, and I just got hooked. I love the creativity, that it’s hands on, the feel and the touch of it. It’s very similar to baking in some ways. I just got it. So many customers kept asking about the pottery, I’m selling some now.

VL: Anything you’ve learned since you’ve opened your own place?
JW: Yes, that how you name and label things is really important. I make these really awesome vegan peanut butter bars. They weren’t selling at all. I replaced the big “vegan” on the label with a tiny sticker and now they’re doing great.

Greensea’s Ben Kinnaman | Next, Summer 2016

Written by Sky Barsch on . Posted in Entrepreneurs, Q&A

Ben Kinnaman at Greensea headquarters in Richmond. Photo by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur.

Ben Kinnaman at Greensea headquarters in Richmond. Photo by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur.

Ben Kinnaman develops technology (hardware and software) that controls multimillion-dollar underwater robotic vehicles. A former diver and a historical shipwreck enthusiast, Kinnaman owns Greensea Systems, a company whose technology supports cutting-edge research in the deepest parts of the ocean, studying sunken ships, land mines, marine life and other phenomena.

VL: Why are you based in Richmond, Vt.?
BK: We are based in a tiny little town, very deliberately so, because it matches the values that me and my wife have. We decided when were were going to grow the company, it was going to be in our town and our community.

VL: How did you land here?
BK: My wife and I were doing the two-dimensional lifestyle in Baltimore, and I had been developing the concept of Greensea’s core technology. It coincided with my wife and I being in the position to think about starting a family, and we sure as hell didn’t want to do it in Washington, D.C., or Baltimore. We’d been coming to Vermont for years: hiking in the summer, leaf-peeping in the fall, skiing in the winter and everything in between. I decided to pursue this technical concept. When we moved to Vermont we hadn’t started the company, I didn’t have a job. So off we came. It was lifestyle.

VL: How would you put that lifestyle into words?
BK: The values of the community, of preserving the natural world, of being able to live and work and play. My wife and I are pretty healthy people and we value what we do with our bodies and put in our bodies. And it’s just beautiful. It’s hard to describe, it just felt good [here]. When we were visiting we would come to towns like Richmond and at 2:30 in the afternoon when school let out, we saw kids walking down the street, not a grownup in sight. And we saw families and kids out at the parks and families together up on the ski hill. And my wife and I lived a lot of places and we felt like we just didn’t see that anymore.

VL: What do you get out of the Vermont workforce?
BK: You get well-rounded people. The best tech comes from big minds, and minds who engage in all aspects of life. The best technology does not come from sitting on an interstate for two hours a day transitioning from

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Q&A With BTV Ignite’s Michael Schirling | Next, Spring 2016

Written by Sky Barsch on . Posted in Q&A

Michael Schirling of BTV Ignite

Michael Schirling, photographed by Ken Burris.

After 25 years with the Burlington Police Department (recently as its chief), lifelong Burlingtonian Michael Schirling is head of BTV Ignite, which brings together key tech players and leverages Burlington’s 1 gigabit high-speed Internet for economic growth. While it seems like an unusual transition, Schirling was co-founder of the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children task force and designed a police records management system when he became frustrated with the off-the-shelf options.

VL: How did community policing change over the course of your career?
MS: [In the late ’80s,] we’d have pieces of the [patrol] car that would fall off during a shift. Our portable radios would die in the middle of an event. We had to buy our own bulletproof vest, paper and pens, Polaroid film to process crime scenes, fingerprinting kit. … We had to cohabitate in the locker room with pigeons. We used to lose detainees out the window because their handcuffs were just attached to paneling with a D-ring. They’d pull it out of the wall and jump out the window. It’s changed a lot.

VL: Did philosophy change?
MS: It’s always been service-oriented, and I think it is still in a state of transition. Transition takes essentially a generation. Federal and state policy and resources have dramatically impacted the way things are done.

VL: For the better or worse?
MS: Worse. We have under-resourced mental health across the entire continuum, and when there aren’t resources anywhere else, it falls to two organizations to fix: police departments and emergency departments. There is no other place where the buck stops, where you call and walk

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