Street Talk

Street Talk: Food for thought

Pulling teeth.

July 10, 2015
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Grand Rapids is good at pulling off combos.

We combine lots of things and make them better. The latest example is the 2015 Meijer LPGA Classic presented by Kraft, the professional golf tour stop visiting Blythefield Country Club July 21-26.

It’s not enough just to have a professional sporting event call West Michigan home. We need to figure out a way to make it better, because that’s what we do.

So the folks at Meijer have tied food to the tournament — as in raising money to provide food for the hungry. And if there’s a little competition involved, that’s all the better.

As part of the celebration, three local pastry chefs from Grand Rapids will compete during the Meijer LPGA Classic Celebrity Chef Cookoff July 24 at Grand Rapids Public Museum. Pastry chefs from Cakabakery, Field & Fire and Sweetie-Licious will compete to earn the votes of both the fans in attendance and a panel of judges that includes celebrity chef Mario Batali and culinary expert Gail Simmons.

“The local competition will add extra excitement to the Meijer LPGA Celebrity Chef Cookoff presented by Kraft, an already exciting and interactive cooking event,” Meijer President J.K. Symancyk said. “We look forward to seeing the community support these local bakeries.”

Tickets to the event are $100 and available at meijerlpgaclassic.com. Proceeds benefit the Meijer Simply Give program that restocks the shelves of food pantries across the Midwest.

The local pastry competition will feature Cakabakery owner Jason Kakabaker, Field & Fire owner Shelby Kibler and Sweetie-Licious owner Linda Hundt.

Kakabaker has been creating birthday cakes and specialty desserts for 20 years. Cakabakery opened in 2010, a boutique bakery specializing in custom desserts, gourmet cupcakes, cake pops and more. Kakabaker represented his bakery on the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” in 2013.

Kibler apprenticed under pastry chef Don Palmer, owner of Palmer’s Pastry Shop in Sterling Heights. In 2013, the University of Michigan graduate moved to Grand Rapids and opened Field & Fire, which specializes in rustic European style breads and authentic French pastries.

Hundt is a 19-time national pie-baking champion and has been featured on the Food Network and “The Steve Harvey Show” and is also the exclusive pie provider for Williams-Sonoma website and catalog. Her bakery opened in 2002 and offers homemade pies, baked goods and comfort foods.

The event will also feature Batali and Simmons, who will each prepare an appetizer and main course while interacting with guests throughout the evening.

Meijer donates more than 6 percent of its net profit each year to charities throughout the Midwest. With hunger as a corporate philanthropic focus, Meijer partners with hundreds of food banks and pantries.

 

Raise the roof

The economy is picking up speed, business is booming and you deserve a raise, right?

Most employees believe the simple answer is yes. What’s not so simple, however, is actually getting that raise.

Why? Because more often than not, you have to ask for it, and that’s not something most people are comfortable doing.

If the thought of asking for a raise makes you want to scrub the floors, update your résumé or spend quality time at the dentist's office, you’re not alone. While 89 percent of U.S. workers surveyed by staffing firm Robert Half believe they deserve a raise, just over half (54 percent) plan to ask for one this year. Instead of making the case for a pay bump, many workers would rather clean the house (32 percent), look for a new job (13 percent), get a root canal (7 percent) or be audited by the Internal Revenue Service (6 percent).

That’s a lot of angst.

Robert Half's Confidence Matters research outlines workers’ confidence levels and attitudes about a variety of career and salary topics. More than 1,000 U.S. workers employed full time in office environments were surveyed about it by an independent research firm.

“Self-confidence is the foundation of a successful career,” said Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half. “Your professional growth and earning potential depend not just on the demand for your skill set, but also on your willingness and ability to negotiate with current and prospective employers.”

The survey revealed several areas in which workers are feeling upbeat. Eighty percent of respondents are confident about the stability of their current employer, and nearly two-thirds (65 percent) are more confident in their job prospects now compared to one year ago.

Surprisingly, the research also indicates one of life’s greatest fears may be losing its stigma, at least when compared to talking about pay: More workers are comfortable speaking in public (66 percent) than asking for a raise (56 percent) or negotiating salary at a new job (61 percent).

While no one likes to be turned down for a raise, McDonald said workers are split as to what they would do if they asked for — but didn't get — the pay hike they wanted. The largest group of respondents – 30 percent – would wait for the next performance review to ask again. Another 24 percent would ask for better perks and 19 percent would look for a new job.

When it comes to knowing what they're worth in the market, the majority of employees are keeping tabs: 59 percent of professionals have checked their salary against market rates based on third-party research within the last year; 20 percent have done so in the last month. However, 27 percent of workers surveyed admitted they had never done this research.

McDonald said those who invest time in researching compensation levels are on the right track.

“If you don't know the average pay rates for people with your skills in your city, it's hard to make a compelling case for a higher salary,” he said. “Those who don’t do their homework often veer to one of two extremes — either they don't negotiate at all, or they demand too much. Professionals who back up their request with data and point out the value they bring to the firm are likely to have more productive discussions with their manager.”

The survey unearthed a few more employment tidbits, but may have insinuated that employees in the Midwest are least likely to raise a ruckus around raise time.

For example, the most likely employee to ask for a raise is male, ranging from 18-34 years of age, with 10 or fewer years of professional experience and living in the Western United States.

Twenty-seven percent of employees in the Northeast United States would look for a new job if their request for a raise got turned down — the highest percentage of any region. Workers in the South came in next, at 19 percent. Employees in the South also show the greatest confidence in the stability of their employers.

And to top it all off: More men than women would rather look for a new job or be audited by the IRS instead of asking for a raise.

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