Olympic Spirit!

We thought we would take a quick break from all things food and beverage related for a quick announcement! Gourmet International employees have been placed into teams representing the United States, Canada, France, Germany and Norway. This Thursday/Friday, as the official Winter Olympics begin, we will have our own opening ceremonies and carrying of the olympic torch!

I hope to get some good photos and maybe, if I am lucky, I can grab some video of everyone enjoying the following itinerary of events:

  • Friday, February 9 – Opening Torch Ceremony & First Event: Paper Plate Discus
  • Monday, February 12 – Broom Hockey Shoot Out (might get upgraded to a real shoot out!)
  • Wednesday, February 14 – Chair Rowing
  • Friday, February 16 – Paper Plane Javelin
  • Monday, February 19 – Balloon Sprint
  • Wednesday, February 21 – Cookie Monster
  • Thursday, February 22 – Synchronized Chair Dancing
  • Friday, February 23 – Final Synchronized Chair Dancing & Closing Medal Ceremony

Now, there is an “Official Rule Book” – with rules and instructions on how to participate in these events! I will share those on the actual day of events! We hope you stick with us as we take a fun break and enjoy some company rivalry!

What are some of your favorite events that take place during the Winter Olympics? I’d have to say that I do enjoy a lot of the skiing and ice skating events, as well as, of course, HOCKEY! Luge is another fun one… so many to choose from! Oh and curling… I’ll just stop now, because I will probably just list all of the events!

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And the Winner *IS*…

Well… the day has finally arrived! It is the official Gourmet International Chili Cookoff Day! Who’s chili will win the top prizes? You’re just going to have to stay here, continue reading, maybe grab yourself a bowl of chili and read on!

The ONLY rule for today’s Chili Cookoff was this: All chefs and chefettes HAD to use Oro Di Parma Chopped Tomatoes. Contestants were given three cans and could use as many of the three cans that their recipe required! Today’s prizes range from gift cards to a t-shirt! Some recipes have your basic ground beef while another recipe has venison! Some chili was spicy and others sweet, some with potatoes and some made with chicken!

We have to say… when we first started this idea of the chili cookoff, we only had maybe 5 or 6 people signing up. We realized the word didn’t get out to everyone and before you know it we had a total of 17 people with chili entries! When I arrived today I got word we were up to 18 total entries! That’s a lot of chili! As you can see from the photos from today, there was enough food to go around and then some! Not only did we have tons of chili to taste test, but we also had some sweet treats to munch on after all the hard taste testing work!

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Speaking of desserts, our own Linda had made two apple pies. As you can see from the photos below, they were totally gone by the end of the lunch bunch rush!

It was really great to see all the employees together hanging out and tasting the chili! It was really fun to listen to everyone talk about which chili was their favorite and give others pointers on which crock pots they should try next! I think we all kept mumbling, “Oh my gosh, there are 18 different pots of chili!” I know I did! I kept saying, “There’s SOOOO much chili!!” Chili for days!

So after much taste testing and hemming and hawing… ballots were cast and we have some winners!


We are proud to announce our winners! Our *First Place winner is Marcos* and our *Second Place winner is Maureen*! Congratulations to you both! They each received gift cards – Marcos a gift card to Ucello’s Restaurant, Maureen a gift card to Craig’s Cruisers! Congratulations to you both! Enjoy! There was a third place winner… that would be Yours Truly, Your Gourmet Nibbler! I got the t-shirt!

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We want to say THANK YOU to all our Chefs and Chefettes in the actual making of the chili and also a big THANK YOU to everyone who helped pull this event together! What a fun way to spend a rainy October day at Gourmet International! Some of us may be expanding at the waist line after today’s event, but what a great afternoon to spend with each other! Nibble, Nibble!

Time for an Employee Chili Cookoff!

We are excited to tell you that we are doing an employee chili cookoff! We’ve already started collecting names of our chili chefs and the contest will take place on Tuesday, October 24! We will have first, second and third place winners that will be tallied by secret ballot! To inspire our chefs, we are using Oro Di Parma tomato products. Each employee that participates in the chili cookoff will receive three cans of Oro Di Parma Chopped Tomatoes . We realize that everyone’s recipes are different and may not require that much tomato in their chili, but we have our staff covered!


We can’t wait to try to the different chilis that the staff are cooking up! From beef to venison, there will be quite the choosing for judges to try! At this time, it appears that we have at least 10 chili chefs signed up for this fun occasion! Time to bring the team together and taste some chili!

Who’s chili will reign supreme!? We don’t know, and you’ll have to find out next week as we bring you along our Chili Cookoff ride!

Community Connections.

We do love to talk about gourmet food and beverages, but we also want to share about the many different ways we love to support our own community. A few things happened within the past few days that are worth mentioning because they are important to us!

The employees here at Gourmet International collected craft items and toys for the Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital here in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Our staff teamed up with the Spectrum Health Foundation to help collect items in need that are on their wish list (which can be found here), many which go towards their Child Life program. As a parent that has had to use this hospital for emergency services and a surgery for her own child, I can tell you, the donations that come in are awesome! If you have time, take time to see what the Child Life program does (see the link). From providing toys and trinkets to “treasure chests” after lab work to providing toys and books to kids preparing for surgery or waiting in the emergency department, donations given to the hospital go a long way! Below is a photo of our own Janice dropping off the donations this morning!

Janice was given a tour by Laurie (seen in the picture on the left). Janice toured the outdoor play area and a library/computer area where all items in the room were donated from the community. Janice said there were LOTS of books! Laurie showed Janice many pieces of artwork that was displayed around the hospital, many done by the patients themselves.

Thank you Janice for taking the time to deliver the donations to the hospital!


“It is so very special that in the midst of our company growth, we took the time to give back. They are so grateful for our donations! That’s what it’s all about!”
– Janice, Gourmet International Employee

This past Friday, I was able to take part in a fundraising event for a local elementary school at their “Ranger Rally” event. The fundraiser raises funds for Pine Ridge Elementary School and their parent-teacher organization. Gourmet International was one of the many sponsors for this event. I was able to capture all the kids in their different colored shirts as they did their walk! All the students, kindergarten through fourth grade, walked from their school all the way to one of the Cascade Township Fire Stations down the road. The kids walked just under 2 miles there and then just about 2 miles back! Almost a 4 mile trip for all the kiddos! We were lucky the rain held off and that it wasn’t too sunny, but it was humid and warm, so there were a lot of sweaty and tired kiddos afterwards!

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As the kids approached the fire station, you could hear the fire trucks blasting their horns for the kids and honking their horns! One of the fire trucks was set up to shoot water from its hose, it was truly fun to watch and be a part of this event!

Fire trucks blare their horns and sirens for the kids as they arrive to the station. A water cannon shoots from a hose on one of the fire trucks. Many thanks to the Cascade Township Fire Department and the Kent County Sheriff’s Department for assisting with the walk and keeping everyone safe!

It was just awesome to see a sea of color and kids with parents, teachers and other school staff walking together for this event. The walk winds through several neighborhoods and down the local bike/walking path. There were people lined out to cheer the kids on and to encourage them! It truly was a great community event and I am glad I was able to be a part of it!

Look at that sea of kids and color going all the way down the street!