Hometown Hero: Chefs on a Mission

Chefs on a Mission 

By Lindsay Kirkland 

 More than ingredients go into the Chefs’ on a Mission soup.  It contains 30 months of work, 5,000 volunteer hours, donations from both local and national companies and an extra large heaping of heart. 

     Hearts & Souls’ Heart Healthy Soup Program served their 75,000th bowl of soup to the homeless at the Atlantic City Rescue Mission on June 29th.

   In 2015 a group of Professional Volunteer Chefs, headed by Bob Harre, decided to make heart healthy soups for the those staying at the Atlantic City Rescue Mission.  It can be difficult, if not impossible, to eat healthy when you are homeless. Foods that are donated most frequently are highly processed, high sodium convenience foods that are not nutritionally ideal.   Heart and Souls Healthy Hearts Soup Program is making a difference. They developed over one hundred and ten heart healthy soups, made under the same guidelines as set by the American Heart Association.  

    “There is so much need for people to have a place to stay and nutritious meals. It is time for us to give back,” explains Wolfgang Gelckler. Geckler, a prominent chef in Atlantic City for decades, was recently inducted into the Chefs Hall of Fame in 2016. He is retired now but chuckles as he says he has never worked harder.

    Custom Culinary, one of the leading soup base companies in the country, donated all of the low sodium bases used for the program.  The low sodium bases gave the chefs the perfect foundation to accomplish their goals of minimizing sodium, fats and sugar. The bases donated were Vegetable, Chicken, Beef, Clam and Lobster.  All of there  products are easy to use and save tremendous amounts of labor. Additionally  WalMart, Cres Cor Corporation, M & S Produce Outlet, Vietnam Veterans Post 228, VFW Post 2189, Nordon PKE kitchen, The Lobster House in Cape May and many other generous companies locally and throughout the Country donated to the Chefs’ mission.

Bowl number 75,000 was celebrated with a ‘Seafood Jambalaya’ soup featuring shrimp, scallops and jumbo lump crab accompanied with Liz’s ‘now famous’ garlic bread croutons. A beautiful celebratory cake was also donated by Resorts International. 

All of the soups were made with the best possible fresh ingredients with most soups containing over one hundred pounds of vegetables, fresh herbs, whole grains and high quality proteins. The chefs prepare enough each week for clients to have the opportunity to have three heart healthy meals. 

Typically, 6-8 chefs per week would work prepping and cooking the soups and most all of the Chefs are members of the Professional Chefs Association of South Jersey (PCASJ).  They set high standards and made one of a kind soups such as Lobster Tail Chowder, Authentic Jumbo Lump Crab Gumbo, Atlantic City Style Steak Soup, and many classic soups served in the finest restaurants in the country.    

    The Chefs’ work has appeared in the American Culinary Federations magazine for their unprecedented commitmentton feeding the homeless. In 2016, the PCASJ was presented a ‘Humanitarian award’ for their charitable work in the community.  They were the only chapter in the United States to have received this award.

     Kenneth Trout is the president of the PCASJ (Professional Chefs Association of South Jersey) and is the Corporate Executive  Chef of Icon Hospitality which runs  both the Carriage House and Gourmet Italuan Cuisine of Galloway. The chefs will be taking  brief soup break while they publish their first cook book. All proceeds from the book will go to the Atlantic City Rescue Mission. Trout also explains that the PCASJ is taking their mission to a national level. They have already traveled to Phoenix and Orlando to implement similar programs. 

The chefs will be taking brief soup break while they publish their first cook book. All proceeds from the book will go to the Atlantic City Rescue Mission. 

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