‘Compliments to the Chef!’

BON APPÉTIT! Falls City native Dave Knaup, right, poses for a picture with University of Nebraska head volleyball coach Jon Cook after receiving the 2012 Volunteer of the Year Award from the Washington Cornhuskers.

A former Falls City and current Seattle, Washington resident recently received one of two 2012 Volunteer of the Year Awards from the Washington Cornhuskers, a group of Nebraska alumni and fans who gather to support all things Big Red.

David Knaup, a 1987 Falls City High graduate, was honored along with his wife Karen Lynn, a Ralston, Neb., native, at the annual 2013 Washington Cornhuskers Spring Event. The two are board members in the group and Dave serves as the Community Outreach Coordinator.

Knaup, the son of Rod and the late Betty Knaup, moved his family to the Seattle area in 1997 to pursue a career as a professional chef and is currently an instructor at the Le Cordon Bleu School of Culinary Arts in Tukwila, WA.

In 2011, Washington Cornhuskers President Jim Burkhardt and Knaup began tossing around ways that the group could lend a hand in the community. Knaup, keeping true to his chef background, used the ingredients available to him – his skill set  and the wealth of volunteers at his service – and from scratch, he and Burkhardt cooked up the idea of preparing meals at the Ronald McDonald House in Seattle, which is home to more than 80 families and is the second largest House in the world, behind New York City.

Now one of the most popular events for the Washington Cornhuskers, the plan became reality last July when Knaup and nine volunteers prepared dinner for 24 children and their parents. The group served their second meal this past February.

Volunteers who assisted with the event in July 2012 were (back row, left to right): Jim Burkhardt, Ken Gerlach, Romas Colwell, Steve Yoder and Ken Geddes.  Front row, left to right, Dave Knaup, Lynn Cobb, Mary Lou Colwell and Carole Geddes.

In his presentation speech, Burkhardt commended Knaup for his vast efforts in making the meal an overwhelming success.

“Most of the work is done by Dave before the volunteers start working, but the amount of work that he does to support this activity is hard for me to fully describe,” Burkhardt stated. “Dave prepares all of the food in advance, but doesn’t cook it because that can only be done at the Ronald McDonald House due to their food-handling protocols. On the day of the event, Dave literally backs his pickup to a door at the House and the volunteers unload coolers full of food and pots and pans.

“Volunteers then complete the final preparation of the food under the watchful eye of Dave and the Ronald McDonald House staff.”

The majority of the food is served to children undergoing chemotherapy and, as a result, their immune systems are suppressed, making them vulnerable to sickness. A common cold or the flu can be life threatening.

Consequently, the fragile immune systems of the patients results in the House’s  strict food-handling regulations, explained Burkhardt.

“They monitor our activities in the kitchen to ensure that rules are followed,” Burkhardt stated. “Fortunately, Dave teaches those same rules to his students at the culinary school, so we never have a problem with the Ronald McDonald staff, as they recognize he is an expert in this area and they feel very comfortable whenever the Washington Cornhuskers offer to cook a meal there.”

Making dinner plans seems trivial considering the families spend the majority of their time during the day at the hospital.

“After a full day of treatments, the last thing their parents want to worry about is how they are going to feed their families. For them to come back to the House knowing that a great, home-cooked meal is waiting for them, it’s just one less thing they have to worry about. And the positive comments that we receive from both the children and their parents are genuine and from the heart.”

Burkhardt expressed his gratitude on behalf of the WaCornhuskers and the staff of the Ronald McDonald House, adding that the event would not be what it is today, or at all, without Knaup.

“This event would never be the success that it has become, in fact, probably would never have happened without Dave’s work.”


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