Whenever I talk with people about Cream City Casseroles, one of the first questions they ask is if I cook everything from home. The answer is no.

Cream City Casseroles is fully licensed, certified and insured and operates out of rented commercial kitchen space in Waukesha County.

In fact, here's a 180 degree view of where I prepare meals:

Awesome, right?

The kitchen belongs to Easter Seals of Southeast Wisconsin and its primary purpose is to train people with disabilities for careers in the food service and hospitality industry. The space is huge, fully ADA accessible and equipped with top-of-the-line appliances and every pot, pan and utensil needed to run a commercial kitchen.

The space is so large, it can easily accommodate Easter Seals' training needs and house a handful of private, part-time food businesses, including mine.

Renting from Easter Seals is a true win/win. It's allowed me to pursue my dream of starting my own business without all of the overhead of opening my own commercial kitchen. Plus, my rent helps fund Easter Seals' many programs and services. It doesn't get better than that!

Even though I'm a one-woman operation and work independently, I'm rarely alone. I share kitchen space with the trainers and trainees as they run Easter Seals' catering services. There's always someone around cooking, cleaning or prepping, which I like.

What can I say? I'm a people person.

Last week in the kitchen was a little bittersweet. Several of the trainees graduated from the kitchen training program. Some will be given new training opportunities and others will find employment out in the community.

While I'm so happy for the graduates and their new opportunities, I'm also a little sad to see them go. I've gotten to know several of the program participants and will miss one graduate in particular. To protect her privacy, I'll call her J.

Change can be hard and I know that J and some of the other graduates have mixed feelings about moving on. I get it. It's scary leaving a comfort zone to try new things. The mom in me wanted to offer some reassuring words and a warm hug, but I didn't want to upset anyone. Besides, I figured it was best to leave that conversation to the wonderfully capable team coordinating the transition.

So, I didn't make a fuss about graduation. And sadly, because of conflicting schedules, I didn't get to say goodbye to J in person, which leaves me feeling a little unsettled. I've been thinking about her all weekend and need to say here what I couldn't in person.
J -

I really enjoyed getting to know you while working in the kitchen. You're a hard worker and certainly held your own in a program where you were one of few women. I will miss hearing you sing and telling the guys to get back to work. Thank you for showing me around and for all the great Dancing with the Stars updates. 
I know graduating is scary, but you're smart and capable and will soon master your next challenge. I won't wish you luck; you don't need it. You've got this.
Take care,

I guess change is hard for all of us. I don't want to see J go, but she met her goal (graduation) and I'm really happy for her. And, I'm looking forward to meeting the new trainees.

I wonder if any of them sing.