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Bailey Foster, four others describe experiences responding to business impacts and opportunities

We joined about 165 others on Thursday for the 35th edition of Knoxville’s “PechaKucha Night,” this time in a virtual mode.

It was our first occasion to attend the local edition of the 20 by 20 (20 slides that change every 20 seconds) global idea sharing conversation launched in Japan in 2003, and our reason was to hear the presentation by Bailey Foster of Real Good Kitchen. We have chronicled her journey to launch a commercial production kitchen, event venue, and culinary business incubator, including this most recent post on teknovation.biz.

As the event wrapped-up in less than an hour, we were inspired by all five presentations from local residents who described efforts to not only survive but succeed as the COVID-19 pandemic impacted their lives. There was also a special guest – PechaKucha Co-Founder Mark Dytham who joined briefly from Tokyo.

In the case of Foster, she had sent an email earlier this week, noting that, “Like many of you, we’re finding ways to navigate through these devastating times, and we’re working on helping local food businesses do the same.” To say that the seriously-focused entrepreneur is on a mission would be an understatement as would her unwillingness to let anything stop her.

So, when COVID-19 impacted her initial plans, Foster launched something called the “RGK Cooking School” where she is showcasing a local chef each Wednesday night on a virtual broadcast (click here for the latest episode).

“We have completed five episodes and have six more planned,” Foster said. In the process, the effort has also raised $1,500 for the local food industry, something that she said was “inspiring.”

Noting that the community as well as the nation need a more equitable and sustainable food system, Foster concluded her presentation by saying, “We are going to do all that we can at Real Good Kitchen to be a bridge to that more sustainable future.”

Other presenters were:

  • Mary Kathryn Kennard who described “Project Be Kind,” an idea that came from her seven- and nine-year old children to feed first responders, including 285 on the day she presented. The idea has grown to the point that she is launching a 501(c)(3) organization.
  • Adrienne Webster, owner of a small accounting firm, who described how she and her team have helped small businesses with the “Paycheck Protection Plan” (PPP) with applications ranging from $300 to $300,000. Noting that the team stayed-up all night in early April on the day before the applications opened, Webster called-out Lisa Young of Citizens National Bank for her help with many of the accounting firm’s clients.
  • Margaret Stolfi who described how she and her husband, Jesse Newmister, have used the PPP program for their two restaurants – Kaizen and Tako Taco. Her advice to those who have secured similar awards: “Keep-up with the rules; things change.”
  • Rusty Odom, Editor of the Blank newspaper, who described having to pivot from a live “Second Bell Music Festival” at Suttree Landing Park to a reconstituted and virtual “Second Bell Sofa Soiree.”

Thursday evening’s Pecha Kucha was billed as Volume 35A. The second half occurs this Thursday night beginning at 8 p.m. with six presentations. Click here for more information.

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