Sunday, September 21, 2008

Young Entrepreneur: Chef Kim Alvarez

Entrepreneur and chef Kim Alvarez was featured with her husband Edgar in a front-page article in the Philadelphia Business on Sept. 19, 2008 entitled “To market, to market, to buy a dinner to remember,” by reporter Adam Stone. “As business plans go, it’s perhaps not the most sophisticated. But it sure is straightforward,” Stone wrote. “Kim and Edgar Alvarez have a catering business to run, they’ve got a retail shop to manage, and they have ambitions for growth. Their strategy: Make the best food they can.”

If you are a fan of tasty international fare, they accomplished their mission. The menu — developed Philadelphia native Kim and Guatemalan-born Edgar — features hors d’oeuvres including chicken satay, spanakopita and vegetarian potstickers. Entrees range from orange ginger sesame chicken to short ribs to cranberry almond-crusted salmon.

The menu also reflects the couple’s experience working in some of the best kitchens in Philadelphia. They met more than a decade ago working at the four-star Philadelphia hotspot the Striped Bass (which was the backdrop to the anniversary scene in movie, The Sixth Sense) and married in 1999. Prior to that, Kim worked at Brad Ogden’s One Market in San Francisco and the Lark Creek Inn in Larkspur, CA. She also worked as a chef at several gourmet markets in Philadelphia, including Gerard’s and Patina. Edgar has been chef at such notable Philadelphia bistros as Phillippe Chin, Dock Street and the Black Sheep Pub.

“At those establishments we learned not only how to prepare four-star meals, and lead other chefs so they enjoy coming to work each day," Kim adds. "We also came to master what it means to truly take care of your guests, Edgar and I have brought our passion and skills to the Delaware Market House, and this experience has been a highlight of our careers.”

Another highlight is sharing their passion for cooking with their children, Emma and Alejandro.

“I clearly remember the day my mom enrolled me in a cooking class at Bloomingdales in Jenkintown, PA,” Kim recalls. “I was 7 and it was Thanksgiving time, so our first assignment was to make homemade stuffing. My cousin Brandi was also in the class, and she also liked all the tearing of the bread and combining it with the wet ingredients using her fingers. But I loved it.”

Every Thanksgiving, she still whips up the recipe for the family—with a little help from her kids who look forward to tearing the bread and helping her sauté vegetables and mix it all together with their hands. Kim concludes: “Good cooking is about bringing joy to family and friends through combining the best ingredients with some skill and a little magic."

To read the entire Philadelphia Business Journal article visit:

About the Delaware Market House

Originally built in the early 1900s, the Delaware Market House long been a go-to-spot in Gladwyne, PA. Hungry residents came looking for a hearty meal, a hot cup of coffee, and good conversation. Award-winning Philadelphia Chefs Kim and Edgar Alvarez bought the Market in 2004 and continue the tradition by catering luncheons, parties and holiday meals, and serving up gourmet meals, fresh produce, baked goods, the finest cuts of meat, and providing customers with all the supermarket necessities of life—from cartons of fresh milk and bread to laundry detergent and diapers. For details call 610-642-7120 or visit

Monday, September 15, 2008

The next president of the United States must put the full of weight of his office behind an energy plan, says Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson

When energy expert Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson addressed the National Press Club on Tuesday, Sept. 9, the ballroom packed with politicians, energy industry professionals and journalists took note as she described the plan she and her colleagues insist that the 44th president of the United States consider when it comes to energy policy.

“The priorities and legacy of a new administration are often defined and judged by the actions that are taken within its first 100 days,” said Jackson, a MIT-trained physicist and current president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, who is the vice chairman of the Competitiveness Council — a group of corporate CEOs, university presidents, and labor leaders committed to enhancing U.S. competitiveness in the global economy through the creation of high-value economic activity.

“The future economic competitiveness, national security, and prosperity of our nation will be determined by how we obtain and use energy, protect our environment, and address global climate change,” insisted Jackson, who was the chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission; a theoretical physicist conducting basic research at the former AT&T Bell Laboratories; and a professor of theoretical physics at Rutgers University.

Talk about a truly amazing woman.

Jackson went on to explain that America is caught as never before in a double grip: the need for national and global energy security, and legitimate alarm over our planet’s climate change.

“Issues that ensue from these twin realities—complex geopolitical and geostrategic challenges, unprecedented wealth transfer from one group of nations to another, the profusion of investment choices before us—require vision, careful analysis, coherent thinking, and finally, action,” Jackson explained.

As co-chairwoman of the Council’s Energy Security, Innovation & Sustainability Initiative—whose members include Caterpiller Inc.’s CEO James Owens and the national president of the AFL-CIO, Michael Langford—Jackson said her organization has put forth six priorities for the 44th president’s first 100 days:

* Set the global bar for energy efficiency. The next president must issue an executive order mandating that the federal government use the procurement process to lead the market toward efficient energy standards for goods and services, as well as in the construction and retrofitting of facilities.

* Assure access to clean and competitive energy.Immediately develop and utilize all sources of energy in America, including oil, gas, coal, nuclear, hydro, wind, solar, biofuels, geothermal, laser fusion-fission and other advanced energy sources.

* Jumpstart energy infrastructure investments. As our government has set aside loans for American to afford homes and start small businesses, today our country requires a $200 billion national energy bank to provide debt financing and drive private investment in the development of sustainable energy solutions and supporting infrastructure.

* Spawn technological breakthroughs and entrepreneurship by increasing investment in research and development, and market commercialization to deliver secure and sustainable energy.

* Mobilize a world-class energy workforce. As computer scientists and aerospace engineers were crucial to winning the space race in the 1960s, we will win the clean energy race by educating the next generation of science and technology researchers and game-changing innovators, thereby filling the workforce pipeline with a new generation of skilled talent.

* Clear obstacles to a national transmission superhighway. As with the interstate highway system and the information superhighway, our leaders must knit together the patchwork of regulations and oversight into a seamlessly connected electrical power highway that is technologically capable of allowing both on and off ramps for all energy sources.

“Energy security is the greatest challenge and greatest opportunity of our time,” Jackson concluded. “A national call to action will ignite our collective imagination, spark a new era of innovation, stimulate our economy, open new markets, unleash our national potential, and enhance our economic and national security. But, we must begin. The next president must send a clear signal—in the first 100 days—that will move us from rhetoric to reality.”

Hope Katz Gibbs is a National Press Club member and freelance writer in Northern Virginia. View this and other articles at the National Press Club blog.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Teaching the Tricks of the HR trade: Barbara Mitchell and Sharon Armstrong

In 14th-century England, masons, carpenters, leather workers, and other skilled craftsmen organized themselves into guilds—the first unions that were used to improve their work conditions. With the Industrial Revolution came divisions of labor, negotiable wages and hours, and challenging work conditions, and the owner was replaced by a new character, the boss, who was solely focused on getting the job done fast and right.

Conflict ensued—and so the human resources industry was born to help set things straight, explain authors Sharon Armstrong and Barbara Mitchell in their new book, The Essential HR Handbook: A Quick and Handy Resource for Any Manager or HR Professional.

This quick-reference guide, published in the fall of 2008 by Career Press, sheds light on the issues that keep managers up at night, says Mitchell, who for a decade worked for Marriott Corporation and several technology firms in the Washington DC area before launching her own company—The Millennium Group International—in 1998.

“Human resource professionals are not only charged with resolving labor issues,” Mitchell explains. “We also help acquire, train, appraise, and make sure employees are fairly compensated, while attending to their concerns about labor relations, health and safety, and fairness.”

“It’s a big job, but we make it easier by outlining guidelines and best practice recommendations in the 12 chapters of our book,” adds Armstrong, who began her career in human resources in 1985 as a recruiter/trainer in a large Manhattan law firm before launching her own company, Armstrong and Associates, in 1997. “Whether you are a newly promoted manager, a seasoned business owner, or a human resources professional, knowing the ins and outs of dealing with HR issues is critical to your success.”

With this easy-to-read 250-page paperback, you'll learn how to effectively and efficiently:

• Individually manage each employee, starting on his or her first day.
• Manage a multi-generational workforce.
• Appraise job performance.
• Coach and counsel.
• Provide equitable pay, benefits, and total rewards strategies.
• Minimize legal risk.

HR professionals have raved about this 250-page paperback—mostly because it gives sound ideas that are simple to put into practice, says Stephen J. O’Connor, senior director of staffing, ESPN Inc. “This book is easy to use, and full of solid advice and information from diversity to interviews to legal issues. If you are HR professional, you should have this book at the ready every day.”

Joe Calloway, author of Work Like You’re Showing Off adds: “Finally, a complete, clear, and concise book that covers every essential element of that mix of art and science we call HR,” “It’s 100% applicable to the real-world challenges faced by today’s HR manager or business owner.”

About the Authors

Sharon Armstrong began her career in human resources in 1985 as a recruiter/trainer in a large Manhattan law firm. She took over as Director of HR at the DC firm Shaw, Pittman, Potts & Trowbridge in 1991, and in 1994 became the Director of HR and Administration at the Association of Trial Lawyers of America.

In 2000, she opened her own firm, Sharon Armstrong & Associates, and since has provided training and completed HR projects for hundreds of clients. Her firm also serves as a brokerage house for other HR professionals. In 1998 she co-wrote her first book, “Healing the Canine Within: A Dog’s Self-Help Companion,” a humor book about her dog Scooter, and in 2003 she penned, “Stress-free Performance Appraisals,” with co-author Madelyn Appelbaum.

Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and organization development consultant who is widely known as an expert in the areas of recruitment and retention. She has experience in both for-profit and not-for-profit sectors and has consulted to a variety of organizations around the world.

She served in senior human resources leadership positions with Marriott International and several technology firms in the Washington DC area before co-founding the Millennium Group International, LLC (TMG) in 1998. She recently served on the Society of Human Resource Management’s Special Expert Panel on Consulting and Outsourcing in recognition of her expertise and long service to the HR profession. Barbara is a graduate of North Park University, Chicago, IL, with a degree in history and political science and has taken graduate level courses at UCLA.

Both authors live in the Washington, D.C. area.

Visit their website