State College

Taproot Kitchen cooks up a year’s worth of culinary delights

Tony Sapia shows Sarah Pelchar and Joey Schafer how to make granola. Taproot Kitchen, a nonprofit that provides opportunity in the local food economy to adults with intellectual disabilities, is working with Tony Sapia at Gemelli Bakers June 13, 2016.
Tony Sapia shows Sarah Pelchar and Joey Schafer how to make granola. Taproot Kitchen, a nonprofit that provides opportunity in the local food economy to adults with intellectual disabilities, is working with Tony Sapia at Gemelli Bakers June 13, 2016. nmark@centredaily.com

They say that time flies when you’re having fun.

If that’s true, then the rate at which Monday morning unfolded for the members of Taproot Kitchen had a direct correlation to their fondness for granola.

Monday marked the end of the group’s five-day apprenticeship with Gemelli Bakers in State College, where they spent the better part of a week broadening their already considerable array of culinary skills.

Taproot, a nonprofit that helps adults with intellectual disabilities to find opportunities in the local food economy, will celebrate its first anniversary on Saturday with a dinner open to the community at New Hope Church.

“It’s just gone by so fast. We were amazed with how much we actually did, how many meals we actually served,” co-founder Anne Rohan said.

It’s the rare production where the stars of the show are also in charge of the catering. Making a rare appearance in a supporting role as one of the evening’s entrees will also be … quiche?

That’s where Gemelli Bakers entered the picture.

It was owner Tony Sapia who first approached Rohan and Taproot co-founder Sharon Schafer about giving their youthful charges a front-row seat to the bread being made.

Judging by the ever so slightly smudged aprons that visiting chefs Sarah Pelchar, Kara Rohan and Joey Schafer were wearing on Monday morning, those seats were positioned firmly in the “splash zone.”

A few stains were to be expected. The slurry that the trio had spent the early morning hours preparing was a mixture of honey, oil, sugar and cinnamon and would be providing the tasty coating to the granola they were whipping up.

“You actually have to mix the slurry by hand,” Schafer said.

Sapia sees the opportunity to work with the hands as one of the perks of the job and it’s among the reasons that he invited the Taproot folks to the bakery to begin with.

Once they arrived, Sapia was impressed by their work ethic. By Monday, the gang had already made pies, sub rolls and pretzels.

Sapia said that it didn’t take long for them to become part of the team.

“It took them a couple of times but they were twisting pretzels almost like pros,” Sapia said.

The goods that the Taproot trio produced were sold in a bake sale through Friends and Farmers online market — but the knowledge that they’ve accumulated has a much longer shelf.

Pelchar, Rohan and Schafer will bring their pie-baking expertise back to the rest of the group so that they can prepare the quiche crust for Saturday’s dinner.

“I have seen tremendous growth with a lot of these guys,” Rohan said.

Frank Ready: 814-231-4620, @fjready

  Comments