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UP CLOSE: High Peaks Resort helps serve community lunches

February 2, 2018
By GRIFFIN KELLY - Staff Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - A handful of people sat down at the dining tables in the Adirondack Community Church on Jan. 24, like they do every Wednesday for the community lunch.

This time, pressed up against the wall was a table stacked half a foot high with loaves of rye, pumpernickel and Italian breads for anyone to take. In the kitchen, cooks ladled out the day's lunch -beef stew made with brisket, filet and short rib that was braised for 12 hours overnight. Also in the jus were wild mushrooms, parsnips, carrots, turnips, peas and sweet corn. As a side dish, a tossed salad was served with mixed greens and tomatoes.

Chef Kevin Timm prepared the lunch along with help from his crew at the High Peaks Resort's Dancing Bears Restaurant.

Article Photos

Chef Kevin Timm from the Dancing Bear’s ladles out some homemade beef stew at the Adirondack Community Church’s Wednesday lunch on Jan. 24.
(News photo — Griffin Kelly)

For the past seven years, the Adirondack Community Church has held a free lunch every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. One of the people who organizes the lunches, Jim Hadjis, said the community meals provide food for the less fortunate, people on social security and people who need some type of social connection. Hadjis used to do the cooking but has since stepped out of the kitchen for the most part.

"I'm not a kid anymore," Hadjis said. "I don't cook as much as I used to."

That job is now delegated to different groups within the community. Since April 2017, every fourth Wednesday of the month, Timm and some volunteers from Dancing Bears cook and serve food at the Adirondack Community Church's community lunch program.

Both Timm and Hadjis agreed that the High Peaks Resort's lunches normally draw the biggest crowds.

"I think we get a consistent turnout," Timm said. "Our week is usually one of the more popular."

In the winter, it's a little harder for older residents to get out of the house, but in the summertime, the High Peaks Resort's lunch can attract as many as 75 people, according to Hadjis.

On Jan. 24, Timm was accompanied by line cook Chris Popluhar and human resources representative Nancy Butler. Popluhar had just started working at Dancing Bears only a few weeks ago, and he's already fitting in well

"You'd barely think he's new," Timm said. "It feels like he's been working with us for awhile."

Popluhar said he can relate to some of the people who eat at the community lunches. When he was younger, he didn't always have the best food available.

"Growing up, there was unfortunately a lot of takeout for dinner in my house," Popluhar said. "It's good to help people. I feel we don't do that too much these days."

Like Popluhar, Timm also has not just a desire but a sense of obligation to help others. He grew up with a father who was disabled after serving in the Armed Forces. Since then, Timm has volunteered to cater lunches for veterans and wounded soldiers.

When it comes to food, Timm said he likes to approach cooking with an almost scientific mind, identifying what chemical compounds in foods will lead to the best flavors.

"I like to understand food," Timm said. "I'm kind of a food nerd."

Though for the ACC lunches, Timm prefers cooking comfort food - stuff that easily appeals to a variety of taste buds and stays away from the major allergies. Hence the beef stew, a dish that had many people asking for seconds.

"It's a cold winter day," Timm said. "Stew seemed like it would warm them up."

Timm and his helpers make it a point to create delicious and creative food no matter the environment or guest. The beef stew may not be on the Dancing Bears Restaurant menu, but it uses the same quality of ingredients and effort any dish at the restaurant would.

"We try to do our best to serve the same standards of cooking here as we do at the restaurant," Timm said.

Timm, Popluhar and Butler were happy to help out the community and feed some hungry mouths. It's a little bit slower than the lunch and dinner rushes at the restaurant, and it gives them time to relax, reflect on their work and realize they're making a difference.

"Feeding people always feels good," Timm said, "but feeding those who need it feels better."



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