SoDel chefs collaborate with Baylor culinary students to cook for dignitaries

June 19, 2015

Statesmen, businessmen and culinary students sat down for a four-course meal May 14, after having first enjoyed four different reception hors d’oeuvres. Nothing is unusual about that. But this event, part of the 2015 Midatlantic Wine and Food Festival, was held at the Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution in New Castle.

Under the direction of Doug Ruley, corporate chef of SoDel Concepts, students in Baylor’s culinary program took turns preparing the meal with SoDel chefs and sitting down with guests to enjoy it.

“This event is part of the story of our company,” said Scott Kammerer, president and CEO of SoDel Concepts. “Our founder, Matt Haley, struggled in his early life and spent time in prison. But he was able to turn his life around and achieve great success. We believe that everyone has that potential, and we want to help them realize that potential.”

The event, called Breaking Bread Behind Bars, had an ambitious and adventurous menu, which included many locally sourced ingredients designed to challenge and showcase the abilities of the Baylor culinary students. Reception dishes included Kumamoto oyster with Meyer lemon emulsion, and pickled egg crackers with lox. Dinner featured crispy pan-seared Chincoteague rockfish with grated radish, parsley, toasted breadcrumbs and a lobster demi reduced for over 24 hours. The dishes, served family-style, were all paired with different flavors of Matt’s Homemade Soda Co. sodas.

“This was the most amazing event I have ever been part of,” said Ruley, who had help in the kitchen from fellow corporate chef Ronnie Burkle and SoDel Concepts chefs Jason Dietterick, Maurice Catlett and Jen Myers. “The women of Baylor are talented and eager to learn.” The SoDel chefs worked side by side with the Baylor culinary students to prepare the meal worthy of the prestigious event.

Guests included Gov. Jack Markell, U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, state Attorney General Matt Denn, Scott and Lisa Kammerer and Alan Levin, who in June is resigning as director of the Delaware Economic Delaware Office and will join SoDel Concepts as an advisor.

Kammerer said the event was the first step in starting a conversation about helping people who need a chance at a better life. He encouraged Delaware businesses to play a part. Ruley will continue to work with the students. “The women and the staff at Baylor are witnessing the prison life firsthand every day, and if we can give them a sense of hope and awareness through such events as Breaking Bread Behind Bars, the world will be a better place,” he said.

For information on SoDel Concepts, go to