The nonprofit Paul Kares Inc. was founded by local celebrity chef and musician Paul Cullen and another local entrepreneur, Jim Rivette, in 2021 to help young people interested in pursuing careers in the the culinary and musical arts.
One such hopeful beneficiary is local Delaware Tech student Mitchell Bunting, an apprentice chef at The Room at Cedar Grove, a dinner club and restaurant opened by Cullen in 2021. Bunting hopes to attend a Delaware Tech-sponsored culinary course in Sorrento and Rome this spring.
The Delaware Tech Study Abroad program in May 2023 will offer students an immersion in Italian cuisine including study of cheese and wine makers, pasta makers and lemon orchards, and olive oil manufacturing.
Paul Kares supports young adults like Mitchell through providing financial assistance, instruments, culinary kitchen tools and scholarships that cover tuition fees for specialty camps, schools and programs.
The nonprofit will launch a campaign on its website on Giving Tuesday, Nov. 29, to help raise funding for programs such as Mitchell’s study abroad and a special program for the Cape Henlopen High School Jazz Band, which will be announced shortly.
"We’ve seen a wonderful response from the community, and as more people learn about Paul Kares and our membership grows, the more we are able to assist young people who are seeking to fulfill their dreams in the entertainment and hospitality fields," said Michael Whitehouse, Paul Kares executive director. “Supporting Paul Kares on Giving Tuesday will enable us to continue to support aspiring chefs like Mitchell and aspiring musicians from the Delmarva Peninsula."
The organization works with schools, other institutions and groups to identify qualified candidates.
Cullen, the former bass player for the rock band Band Company, notes that being in the entertainment and hospitality industry is hard work. There are long hours in both fields, requiring personal sacrifices and very understanding family members.
"But I wouldn’t trade my career for anything, and I love telling up-and-coming artists about opportunities in one or both industries,“ said Cullen. “Jim and I want to help others pursue their dreams, and frankly, there’s never been a better time to encourage young people to enter hospitality.”
Shutdowns and social distancing during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic flattened the restaurant industry. Now that the economy has reopened, restaurants are having difficulty finding employees, which affects both the business and the diners, Cullen said.
"Meanwhile, our society has never been more in need of entertainment, which can cut through differences and bring people together,” he said.
In addition to donations and membership in Paul Kares, money for the nonprofit is raised through concerts and dinners at The Room at Cedar Grove in Lewes, an event venue that showcases talent and brings fresh acts to coastal audiences. It’s a relaxed place where people can enjoy an evening with neighbors and friends. Most of the events include a multi-course dinner.
The Room at Cedar Grove also holds cooking and mixology workshops, and pop-up dinners with well-known chefs. What makes the events even more special is that all profits benefit Paul Kares and help young people as they start out on their life journeys. Among those helped are children from low- to moderate-income families.
Paul Kares isn’t limited to just vocational pursuits. The nonprofit has supported initiatives that help feed the homeless, such as Shepherd’s Office in Georgetown.
To learn more and support aspiring artists and chefs on Giving Tuesday, and throughout the year, go to Paulkaresde.org.