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Special Needs Teen Thrilled with Bedroom Makeover

Special Needs Teen Thrilled with Bedroom Makeover

(Nicole McClelland, 16, of Waterford (center) surrounded by (from left) Rory Karpathian, owner of Beds by Design, and Suite Dreams Project’s Kay Ponicall, Lauren Tonne and designer Kristin Smith of Jones-Keena and Company, were all involved in the total transformation of Nicole’s bedroom. [Photo by: Vaughn Gurganian])

“I love it,” said a tearful Nicole McClelland as her new bedroom was unveiled to her over the weekend.

Nicole is a 16-year-old spina bifida sufferer who is the recipient of a bedroom makeover project supervised by The Suite Dreams Project of Rochester, Mich.

Suite Dreams provides children with various medical challenges a custom-designed bedroom created to meet their specific needs, tastes and preferences — all at no charge to their family.

Kay Ponicall, co-founder of  Suite Dreams, called the refurbished bedroom in Nicole’s Waterford Township home “a chic, sophisticated space” that follows an animal theme.

The bedroom’s design was provided by Jones-Keena and Company of Birmingham and Beds by Design, a Rochester mattress maker, donated the bed. The bed is custom fit for Nicole and “makes it easier for her to get in and out of her wheelchair,” Ponicall said.

Beds by Design is donating a mattress to the Suite Dreams Project for every mattress it sells through the end of the month. Seven mattresses have been donated so far.

 For more information on The Suite Dreams Project, visit suitedreamsproject.org. To learn more about the twin mattress donation promotion being held by Beds by Design, call 248-923-2153 or visit bedsbydesignmi.com.

Chicago Chef Now Restaurant Owner

Chicago Chef Now Restaurant Owner

(Interior View of Home Bistro )

By GLENN GILBERT
Local Business News

Rose Morenz probably didn’t consider herself a trend-setter in 1989 when she made potato pancakes for her 6-year-old grandson Victor.

The recipe was a natural for woman of Hungarian descent. But while potato pancakes may not be as American as apple pie today, they aren’t necessarily thought of as ethnic dish either.

“There was something about them,” Victor Morenz said. “She diced all of the potatoes by hand. She had very finely diced onions. Simple seasoning. They were the best potato pancakes I’ve ever had.”

While not originating in the United States, many recipes have been so altered from what they were originally that it is often hard to think of them as ethnic.

“We’ve all grown up eating all kind of ethnic food, which basically has become American food,” Morenz said. “Tacos at this point are essentially an American food. There are probably as many taco places in America as there are in Mexico.”

Morenz, now 31 years old, and his wife, Emily Gilbert, also 31, have purchased a restaurant in Chicago that has established a reputation for what is called New American fare.

Home Bistro restaurant owners Victor Morenz and Emily Gilbert near Lake Michigan in Chicago

Home Bistro restaurant owners Victor Morenz and Emily Gilbert near Lake Michigan in Chicago

Home Bistro, or HB as it is more popularly known, became a destination spot when it was owned by the Hearty Boys, Chicago caterers Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh. They at one time hosted a Food Network show. They called their restaurant in the Boystown section of Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood HB, a Hearty Boys Spot.

Their executive chef, Joncarl Lachman, took a New American approach but with a Dutch emphasis. He purchased the restaurant himself in 2007. Lachman owned two restaurants when he helped judge the 2010 San Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition, a contest featuring 16 chefs from eight participating culinary schools, including Le Cordon Bleu School of Culinary Arts, from which Morenz graduated.

Morenz prepared a pork tenderloin roulade stuffed with cranberries, candied walnuts and sage, served with fried mashed potato pancakes and trotter and cranberry demi glace for the competition. His dish also featured frizzled parsnips and braised red cabbage. Morenz’s entry finished second in the competition.

Lachman recruited Morenz to serve as a line cook at another restaurant he owned, Vincent, in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. Shortly after, in January 2011, Lachman named Morenz sous (second) chef at Home Bistro, and Morenz became HB’s executive chef in January 2013.

Morenz explained how his New American approach applies to a white anchovy pinxto appetizer on Home Bistro’s menu. It includes a French canapé, with pickled peppers as a Spanish item. The anchovy is skewered with a cucumber base and piece of fried hallumi cheese, which is Middle Eastern.

Chef with Appetizer

Executive Chef Victor Morenz with White Anchovy Pinxto appetizer

What’s American about it? “The fact that I’m American,” Morenz said. “I’m not using any ethnic preparation of anything. I’m doing it my way, which is with French technique.” For instance, in the white anchovy pinxto, “I take a pinxto from the Basque region in Spain, but put Turkish cheese on it along with the traditional ingredients of white anchovy, pickled peppers, and tomato viaigrette on a baguette slice.”

“It’s a melting pot of cuisine with familiar foods,” Emily Gilbert said of HB ‘s menu. They wouldn’t be mixed together in an ethnic approach. Wikipedia defines New American cuisine as a trend originating in the United States in the 1980s.

“New American cuisine is generally a type of fusion cuisine that assimilates flavors from the melting pot traditional American cooking techniques mixed with foreign … components,” Wikipedia said.

“New American cuisine makes innovative use of seasoning and sauces. Originally based on French Nouvelle and United States cuisine, New American has since progressed to include elements of Asian, Latin American, Mediterranean and other cuisines.”

Morenz and Gilbert plan basic aesthetic changes in the building, which features classic Chicago architecture. The structure has been owned by the Weinberger family — now David Weinberger — since the 1920s. It has about 1,800 square feet, including the kitchen, and a seating capacity of 40.

There are no expansion options at HB and restaurants in Chicago can’t have liquor licenses unless they have more than one restroom. With one restroom they can opt for a bring-your-own-bottle approach and charge a corkage fee. Home Bistro has no such fee, which makes BYOB a popular option exercised by virtually all of its customers.

Executive Chef Victor Morenz, left, and Sous Chef Corey Bowers

Executive Chef Victor Morenz, left, and Sous Chef Corey Bowers

Morenz and Gilbert, who is a program assistant in gender and sexuality studies at Northwestern University, describe HB’s atmosphere as rustic, cozy, intimate, romantic and candle-lit. Morenz said HB, which has a 4.4 rating from Yelp, is a neighborhood restaurant with a lot of destination diners.

Morenz said he started cooking for fun in high school. He sought to master chicken marsala, preparing it for his family. He said running a restaurant in Chicago is a tough business., involving long hours and a lot of hard work. “But it’s easily the most satisfying work I’ve ever had,” Morenz said. “There is instant gratification every day because you get to see people really appreciating what you spent all day working on.”

HB’s staff includes Corey Bowers as sous (second) chef, who attended culinary school with Morenz, and David Devore as front-of-the-house manager, who has worked at HB since it was affiliated with the Hearty Boys. An artist who also was with the Hearty Boys, Matthew Lew, is creating some pieces for the restaurant that feature Morenz and Gilbert’s dog, Elvis.

Front-of-the-House Manager David Devore, left, and  Executive Chef Victor Morenz

Front-of-the-House Manager David Devore, left, and Executive Chef Victor Morenz

Home Bistro is open from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, from 5 to 10:30 Friday through Saturday, for brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, and dinner Sunday from 5 to 9 o’clock.

The restaurant is available to be rented out for private events on Mondays. Groups also can rent out the dining room, with a family-style option offered for $40 (plus tax and tip) for a four-course meal.

The restaurant is located at 3404 N. Halsted St., about a mile from Wrigley Field. The phone number is (773) 661-0299.

http://homebistrochicago.com/

Nicole, 16, of Waterford, was directly helped by Suite Dreams

Nicole, 16, of Waterford, was directly helped by The Suite Dreams Project.
Photographer: Vaughn Gurganian

Suite Dreams Project gets big lift from local mattress donation

(L-R: Lauren Tonne, Kris Appleby, Rory Karpathian and Kay Ponicall; photographer: Vaughn Gurganian)

 
By MIKE SCOTT
Local Business News

Kay Ponicall and Kris Appleby can’t help but come to tears when they think of hundreds of kids, their non-profit The Suite Dreams Project have helped since being established in 2001.
But it is that emotion that has helped The Suite Dreams Project to thrive. The organization provides children with various medical challenges a custom-designed bedroom created to meet their specific needs, tastes and preferences – all at no charge to their family.

Think of “Extreme Home Makeover,” only focused on a child with special needs throughout not just southeastern Michigan, but the entire state of Michigan. That child will describe their dream bedroom and Ponicall and Appleby work their magic – and the magic of their vast array of volunteers – to make it happen.

“You see the courage that these children have. And you see what their parents are going through and what we’re just trying to do is create a healing environment,” said Appleby, a Bloomfield Hills resident.

“For these kids it is a space that gives them a voice,” said Ponicall, who is also a Bloomfield Hills resident.

“Many of them are spending most of their time in their bedrooms and in their own beds so it’s not just their refuge. It is really where they spend most of their time. We want to do something to help add a layer of peace for them and their families.”

The children who have been helped by The Suite Dreams Project, such as 16-year-old Waterford resident Nicole whose challenge is spina bifida, are forced to deal with a range of serious illnesses such as cancer and neurological diseases that have a direct impact on quality of life. The rooms can be designed to help address the need for certain medicines that is required. One of the specific needs that the organization has is mattresses for children’s beds that are comfortable and high-quality.

Nicole, 16, of Waterford, was directly helped by Suite Dreams

Nicole, 16, of Waterford, was directly helped by The Suite Dreams Project.
Photographer: Vaughn Gurganian

That’s where Rory Karpathain and his team at Rochester’s Beds by Design come in. As owner of the Beds by Design location that just opened this July in Rochester, Karpathian was looking to work with a local charity that supported children’s needs given his recent entry into the community. Since Beds by Design handcrafts mattresses made of natural fibers in northern Michigan, they are ideal for children with special needs. After Karpathian heard about Nicole’s needs, he offered to make and donate a perfect mattress for her.

“The thought of Nicole getting a better night’s sleep every night felt so good that I wanted to do more,” Karpathian said.

He added that now through the end of the month, any purchase made from Beds by Design’s master bed collection at its Rochester location will result in a twin mattress being donated for a child helped by The Suite Dreams Project.

Families and individuals are referred to The Suite Dreams Project by area hospitals such as Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit and C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor. Social workers and physical therapists are also great resources for Ponicall and Appleby to help identify families and children that have specific needs.

Besides Ponicall and Appleby, the real heroes are the volunteers: those that volunteer supplies and their know-how to projects; and those that donate their time. There are a large group of committee members who have been a part of the organization since its inception. In addition there are artists and designers; skilled trades people in such areas as plumbing, electrical work, and more; and those that can help with transporting goods and items to the sites where new magical bedrooms are created within a period of weeks, not months or years. Their assistance has been invaluable.

Furthermore it includes generous business owners like Karpathian willing to pitch in.

“If you are handy with some tools and around a house we could really use you,” Appleby said. “I mean we really rely on these people and their skills because we would be lost without them.”
Since The Suite Dreams Project has just one employee, project coordinator Lauren Tonne of Shelby Township, (Ponicall and Appleby don’t take salaries) it has virtually no overhead, and practically all donations go directly to families in need. And in the end it is that need that keeps the two mothers of a combined six kids going with this organization.

“We do it because it makes a difference. It’s more than just the physical ability to make a room look pretty. The redesigned bedrooms make the kids feel special. And the parents and the family need that,” Ponicall said.

Often, The Suite Dreams Project will also provide some design services for siblings of sick children, who often may feel left out because so much of their parents’ attention is directed toward the child with special needs, Ponicall said.

“We started this because we wanted to set an example for our own kids and it has just grown and grown,” she said. “Now our kids are in high school or older and they are still involved. It has become this family effort, not just of our family but those who have played such a major role over the years.”

For more information on The Suite Dreams Project, visit suitedreamsproject.org. To learn more about the twin mattress donation promotion being held by Beds by Design, call 248-923-2153 or visit bedsbydesignmi.com.

 

 

Photographer/Videographer: Vaughn Gurganian.

 

Short Story

Suite Dreams Project gets big lift from local mattress donation

An agency that provides children with various medical challenges a custom-designed bedroom created to meet their specific needs is getting a boost from a local mattress maker.

The non-profit, Rochester-based Suite Dreams has helped hundreds of children in Southeastern Michigan at no cost.

“For these kids it is a space that gives them a voice,” said Suite Dreams’ Kay Ponicall.

“Many of them are spending most of their time in their bedrooms and in their own beds so it’s not just their refuge. It is really where they spend most of their time. We want to do something to help add a layer of peace for them and their families,” Ponicall said.

Beds by Design, which just opened a Rochester location in July, is working with the agency by donating mattresses. Now through the end of the month BBD is donating a twin mattress to Suite Dreams for every mattress sale it makes. BBD handcrafts mattresses that are ideal for children with special needs, according to BBD owner Rory Karpathian.

After Karpathian heard about Nicole’s needs, he offered to make and donate a perfect mattress for her.

“The thought of Nicole getting a better night’s sleep every night felt so good that I wanted to do more,” Karpathian said.

For more information on The Suite Dreams Project, visit suitedreamsproject.org. To learn more about the twin mattress donation promotion being held by Beds by Design, call 248-923-2153 or visit bedsbydesignmi.com.

 

Brief

Suite Dreams Project gets big lift from local mattress donation

An agency that provides children with various medical challenges a custom-designed bedroom created to meet their specific needs is getting a boost from a local mattress maker. The non-profit, Rochester-based Suite Dreams has helped hundreds of children in Southeastern Michigan at no cost.

Beds by Design, which just opened a Rochester location in July, is working with the agency by donating mattresses. Now through the end of the month BBD is donating a twin mattress to Suite Dreams for every mattress sale it makes. BBD handcrafts mattresses that are ideal for children with special needs, according to BBD owner Rory Karpathian.

For more information on The Suite Dreams Project, visit suitedreamsproject.org. To learn more about the twin mattress donation promotion being held by Beds by Design, call 248-923-2153 or visit bedsbydesignmi.com.