Santa Cruz Good Times

Oct 10th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Tread Lightly and Carry a Big Appetite

dining_lightfootAt Lightfoot Cafe and Catering, a celebrity chef and energetic teens bring something truly unique to your table

The banquet room was arranged typically for a fundraising dinner. We were welcomed first by a wine- tasting booth, beyond which a sea of white tablecloths set with sparkling water glasses encircled the dance floor. More tables were loaded with silent auction temptations. Upon closer inspection, I noticed subtle surprises. Pieces of twine tied herb stems to natural fiber unhemmed napkins. And there was nothing ordinary about the activity in the kitchen. For this was a presentation by Lightfoot Industries, a vocational training program for at-risk youth which will host three suppers in December at its new cafe.

Chef Jake Gondolfo, known nationally as a large and lovable finalist on Fox Channel’s Master Chef, added final touches to the meal, while Carmen Kubas demonstrated the passing of hors d'oeuvres to an energetic team of teenagers who hit the stage with trays in their hands. A bright-eyed young woman offered us thin slices of purple Peruvian potatoes with fresh cream and thyme. The cheese table held fruit, vegetables, dates, pistachios, smooth hummus with salty dried tomatoes and apple-cranberry-apricot chutney made by the students themselves.

An endless procession of platters from the kitchen bore the family-style dinner. A medley of roasted root vegetables was followed by sweet delicata squash stuffed with lima beans and greens, steaming scalloped

potatoes, roasted chicken, lamb chunks stewed in spices and finally, apple crumble.

Kubas, a Santa Cruz native, is the founder and CEO of Lightfoot Industries. With a master’s degree in education, and an extensive background in the food and beverage industry as well as working with at-risk youth, her vision for the endeavor is to provide entrepreneurial training in a sustainable restaurant program which models social, environmental, and fiscal responsibility.

In collaboration with Delta High as well as Food, What?! the program supplements accredited coursework. The students work on a farm during the freshman year and in the restaurant during the final three. Part of the for-profit proceeds fund the nonprofit program, and the students bank money throughout high school to apply to their next level of education. The young adults will have gained a strong work ethic, marketable job skills, and personal skills.

When I think of sustainable restaurant management, I envision an emphasis on local, organic and sustainable foods, and green cleaning, waste and water-use practices, which are indeed an integral part of Lightfoot's program. Kubas says the restaurant industry attracts an emerging and relatively untrained workforce, so the concept of Sustainable Management includes skills and paths to advancement. The management style includes team leadership, democratizing ideas and decisions, and empowerment within the team.

Kubas emphasized that this is not a culinary school. The aims are to teach skills that are transferable to any aspiration from a real life laboratory of accomplishment as a team in the kitchen.

While there are only three more suppers this year, Lightfoot is available to cater your holiday parties. Imagine having Chef Jake and the competent kids light up your celebration!

Lightfoot Cafe, 1209 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz (previously Backstage Lounge), 234-9482. Taking online reservations for supper Saturday, Dec. 4, Saturday, Dec, 11, and Sunday, Dec. 17. Visit

Comments (1)Add Comment
Backstage Lounge is still open for business
written by Karen Petersen, December 09, 2010
Although I reported in this article that Lightfoot Cafe occupied the restaurant that was "previously Backstage Lounge," the space next to the Rio Theatre remains Backstage Lounge, and is still available to host your special parties and holiday dinners. Backstage's owner David Jackman (also of Chocolate) is collaborating with chef Mike Martinez and Lightfoot Industries for their upcoming suppers.

My sincere apologies to David Jackman and the staff of Backstage Lounge.

Write comment
smaller | bigger


Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share


Hot in Here

This ain’t no Burning Man—the MAH’s GLOW festival flames on


Mercury Direct in Libra, Columbus Day, Libra New Moon

Mercury completes its retrograde Friday, poised stationary direct Friday evening at zero degrees Libra. Mercury begins its journey through Libra once again, completing its retrograde shadow Oct. 12. Things should be a bit less complicated by then. Daily life works better, plans move forward, large purchases can be made, and communication eases. Everything on hold during the retrograde is slowly released. Since we eliminated all thoughts and ideas no longer needed (the purpose of Mercury’s retrograde) during the retrograde, we can now gather new information—until the next retrograde occurs on Jan. 5, 2016 (1.3 degrees Aquarius), retrograding back to 15 degrees Capricorn on Jan. 25. It’s good to know beforehand when Mercury will retrograde next—Jan. 5, the day before Epiphany. On Monday is Columbus Day, when the sailor from Genoa arrived in the new lands (Americas), Oct. 12, 1492. This discovery by Columbus was the first encounter of Europeans with Native Americans. Other names for this day are “Discovery Day, Day of the Americas, Cultural Diversity Day, Indigenous People’s Day, and Dia de la Raza.” Italian communities especially celebrate this day. Oct. 12 is also Thanksgiving Day in Canada. Monday is also the (19 degrees) Libra new moon festival. Libra’s keynote while building the personality is, “Let choice be made.” Libra is the sign of making life choices. Often under great tension of opposing forces seeking harmony and balance. There is a battle between our lower (personality) and higher selves (soul). We are tested and called to cultivate right judgment and love. When we align with the will-to-good, right choice, then right judgment and love/wisdom come forth. Our tasks in Libra. 


The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program


Film, Times & Events: Week of October 9

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments


Seoul Food

Santa Cruz’s new Sesame Korean is a great introduction to an ancient culinary tradition


Is there evil in the world?

Yes, some people don’t think right because they have been treated badly. Milo Robbins, Scotts Valley, Second Grade


Dos Aguilas Olive Oil

Aptos company is letting locals pick their own olives in October


What’s your biggest pet peeve?

When people say they’re “going down” somewhere, and they’re actually traveling north. Julia Ragen, Santa Cruz, Psychologist