Chef Anthony Brunnemer tossed some roasted vegetables, rosemary and thyme together Thursday afternoon and poured a mustard seed and mango aioli on top.
It’s a dish that might be at home on any restaurant’s menu. Instead, it was part of that night’s gourmet meal for Kokomo’s hungry and homeless.
“Where do you get this kind of food at a rescue mission?” Brunnemer asked, as he stood at his stove.
The answer is right here in Kokomo.
The 46-year-old from Miami County once cooked for celebrities like Brad Paisley, Diamond Rio and Jimmy Buffet as executive chef at the Honeywell Center in Wabash.
But those people are “just another somebody” to him.
He much prefers the clientele he serves today as chef at the Kokomo Rescue Mission.
For many of the homeless and downtrodden people who pass through his kitchen daily, his food is the only warm, nutritious food they’ll eat all day.
“They come in cold and hungry,” he said. “They’re looking for that edge to get them through the rest of the day.”
They’re often surprised when they see what’s on the menu, the rescue mission’s executive director, Van Taylor, said.
It’s a soup kitchen. They think it’s going to be tomato soup and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Brunnemer, though, likes good food and variety.
He gives people at the mission a choice of four entrees and two side dishes every day. And every meal comes with a fruit and some kind of pastry or other dessert.
He serves meals like lobster bisque and pork scallopini – foods that go for $15 or $18 at a restaurant. He tries new dishes every week and makes notes on which ones are snatched up and which ones fall flat.
Boring and repetitive aren’t in his vocabulary. The people he serves deserve better than that, he said.