Wild Ramp to launch multifaceted commercial kitchen program
HUNTINGTON — With help from staff, producers, volunteers, sponsors and the community, a new kitchen program will be available soon at The Wild Ramp at the Central City Market in Huntington.
“The Wild Ramp has been diligently working since 2016 to bring the multifaceted commercial kitchen program concept to fruition. We are thrilled to announce that the kitchen will be officially launching in April at The Wild Ramp,” said Kelsey Abad, the market’s manager. “This new program will enable The Wild Ramp to create its very own assortment of prepared foods featuring local and regional products available in the market.”
As the kitchen program moves forward, it will offer new and exclusive prepared food products, a producer processing hub, processing education and resources for producers and educational community classes, according to Abad.
“We have noticed there is a great demand in our area for ready-made lunch items, side dishes, salad sandwiches and other produce like that, so we are trying to respond to the community by providing more of those items,” she said.
Abad says the program will feature local products as the star ingredients for those items. Products may also include deli items such as ready-to-eat salads and baked goods, as
well as freezer items like frozen soups and meal kits.
“Food items will vary, expressing seasonality and allowing consumers to try new and unique recipes,” she said. “Say, for example, during the height of tomato and corn season, we want to have our corn salad feature what our local farmers are doing. We also want easy grab-and-go items made from local produce, as well as meal kits, which are those middle range process food items. Think of a frozen bag of veggies ready to go with your fajita, or grab your steak and bag of veggies and you’re already halfway to a dinner.”
Abad says many Wild Ramp customers say they are looking for convenience items.
“We want to have more of these convenience items that feature our local producers,” she said.
In addition to providing a new level of convenience to customers, developing a unique line of prepared items will allow The Wild Ramp to utilize seasonal products that producers have in abundance.
“Imagine it’s a great year for tomato farmers and they have hundreds of extra pounds of product,” Abad explained. “We might not be able to sell them all to customers individually, but we can process those into tomato or marinara sauce and put it in the freezer, then stock it on the shelf so they still get to utilize their products and not have to worry about the shelf life issue of a raw, fresh tomato.”
In addition to a branded line of prepared foods from The Wild Ramp, the kitchen program will serve as a resource to a network of producers. It will provide those interested with a space to process items themselves.
“We want this to become a program where producers can come and use our facility if they want to do their own processing, and we also want to provide educational training for volunteers, staff and community members that want to help us do the processing on behalf of our producers,” Abad said.
She added that the kitchen will be available for rent for new food entrepreneurs to utilize while receiving support from Wild Ramp staff and volunteers as needed.
“We understand that cooking takes time and practiced skill,” she said. “The kitchen will provide our staff and volunteers at The Wild Ramp a space to educate our consumers. We want our community members to be confident in their ability to cook with local and regional ingredients at home. We will be hosting cooking classes, tasting events and health education workshops as a way to build that confidence and to enable people to make healthier choices for their families.”
Matt Moore, programs coordinator at The Wild Ramp, says an intern from Marshall University’s Dietetics Program, Kiersten Vint, has been hired as part of the new kitchen program.
“She is coming up with a lot of our recipes and is working on packaging, including sizes and those kind of things,” Moore said.
Moore said they are also looking to hire a chef to work with Vint to move the program ahead.
“We also have a long-term goal of expanding the kitchen area and making it twice the size it is now,” he said. “That is part of our vision for this new kitchen program, too.”
Go online at https://www.facebook.com/TheWildRamp HuntingtonWV/ for more information.
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UPCOMING EVENTS AT THE WILD RAMP
Here’s a look at April events at The Wild Ramp:
April 1-20: Bring your own bag to The Wild Ramp contest. As Earth Day approaches, they are encouraging customers to reduce their plastic consumption and bring their own reusable bags to the store. They’ll take a picture of your bags and enter you into the running for a free Wild Ramp tote bag.
April 13: Exploring Extension Series hosted by The Wild Ramp and WVU Cabell County Extension Service from 10 a.m. to noon. Come to The Wild Ramp and learn about the Cabell Extension services and programs for all ages. Each month they will host a new and different drop-in program, free food sampling or kids’ activity.
April 13: Happy Easter Cooking Class for Kids from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 13. Learn why eating eggs helps your body to grow big and strong. Your child will enjoy an egg-decorating activity and learn to make Easter-themed recipes such as Deviled Eggs, Baked Egg Frittatas, Hippity Hop Pear Salad and Strawberry Springtime Parfaits. Students must be registered at https://www.healthyinstructor.com/vicki-cole/upcomingclasses/happyeastercookingclass15.
April 20: Tractor Safety from noon to 3 p.m. Jason Ekers with Rocky Knob Farms is an experienced farmer and mechanic. Learn the basics of tractor operation and safety. This class will help farmers young and old learn the capability of their equipment and the importance of proper maintenance.
April 27: Stink Fest from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. The annual ramp festival features local food vendors, local beverages and adult beverages, local farm and artisan goods, a play area with inflatables, and live music from Beggars Clan, The Settlement, The Mutual Admiration Society, Big Rock & The Candy Ass Mountain Boys and Moonshine Crossing.