GRCC Secchia Institute grad Chris Wessely wins Start Garden competition, boosting plan for restaurant that also fights food insecurity

Grand Rapids Community College alum Chris Wessely’s dream of opening a restaurant that also fights food insecurity will get a boost after being among 10 projects earning $20,000 prizes at the Start Garden Demo Day.

Wessely, a 2011 graduate of GRCC’s Secchia Institute for Culinary Education, plans an upscale ramen noodle and boba tea shop and pledges to donate a portion of every meal to charities providing meals to children.

Noodle Pig, at 601 Bond Ave. in Grand Rapids, is planned to open this fall. Start Garden is a Grand Rapids organization aiming to accelerate experimentation, risk-taking and investment in early startups.

Wessely in July was chosen to be a finalist in the Start Garden 100, a competition for entrepreneurs. At Wednesday’s Demo Day at GLC Live at 20 Monroe, Noodle Pig and nine other projects were selected and winners received $20,000 to help their businesses.

He prepared for the event in the Secchia kitchens, creating samples to share at the competition and speaking with current students.

“I was humbled and honored to have been selected as one of the top 10 to be awarded this year,” Wessely said. “I was also very proud to be able to also represent my culinary school last night. Thank you again for all the love and support!”

Wessely didn’t start out to be a chef. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Aquinas College in 2004, majoring in Political Science and Japanese, participating in a year-long exchange program with Seikei University in Japan. In 2008 he founded the Sport and Social Club, which operates sports leagues for adults, with an eye toward helping young professionals stay fit. 

But he loves to cook, and enrolled in the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education while running the Sport and Social Club, graduating with a 4.0 grade point average and earning Faculty Choice honors.

Now he’s changed his responsibilities with the Sports and Social Club to focus on opening Noodle Pig.

“It’s going to be a different concept, a fast-casual ramen restaurant like you’d find in Japan and big cities here,” he said last year. “I think of it as healthy foods meeting quickness.”

He plans to make all of the food from scratch, including the noodles. He purchased a Japanese noodle machine and patrons will be able to watch it work.

Every bowl of ramen sold will help cover the cost of a meal for three children. He plans to partner with three charities focused on feeding children. He is looking to partner with a local and national effort, and with a friend who runs a children’s home in India.

“As you slurp away to ramen-bliss, know that you’ve also made a significant impact in three children’s lives today,” Wessely posted on the restaurant’s website. “Together, we will end child hunger, one bowl at a time.”

GRCC cross country teams among the best in the country, with women’s team ranked No 6, men ranked No. 13

The Grand Rapids Community College cross country teams are among the best in the country, according to the first U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association poll of the season.

The women’s team, with All-Americans Audrey Meyering and Kaylee Scott, was ranked No. 6 in the nation, and the Men’s team, with All-American Coleman Clark in No. 13.

The teams have spent most of the young season competing in races that included many four-year schools. While it’s good to be challenged, women’s coach Sharon Becker said it is important for the teams to focus on their performances and improvements and not worry about the other competitors.

Becker said all seven of her runners improved their times and racing skills during the first two competitions of the season.

“When running a race with many 29 teams and 200 runners, it is easy to forget our original race goals, what we can control and how well we ran the race or finished the race,” she said. “Even though our brains like to trick us and compare, compare, compare, we start looking at how green the grass looks on the other side. Theodore Roosevelt said, ‘Comparison is the thief of joy.’ If we stop comparing and look at the facts, our team has many reasons to be joyful.”

Last year, both of the GRCC teams finished the season ranked No. 7 in the nation. 

Both teams are racing Friday at the Kirtland Fireboard Invitational at the Hanson Hills Recreation Area in Grayling.

GRCC In the News 09/23/2022

Alice Cooper and band members golf with GRCC coaches in Ada

9/22/22 WGRD

Legendary Alice Cooper and some of his band members played a round of golf in Ada with Grand Rapids Community College golf coaches before his show at the DeVos.

Partnership to help high school students explore manufacturing

9/23/22 Grand Rapids Business Journal

Western Michigan University and Grand Rapids Public Schools are partnering to bring students an educational opportunity.

… The program is a two-year dual-enrollment situation for the students, who will spend their school days at the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership Laboratory, 200 Ionia Ave. SW. The AMP Lab is a collaboration between WMU, Grand Rapids Community College, Autocam Medical and West Michigan manufacturers.

Newschannel 3 at 4:30

9/23/22 WWMT

(Alice Cooper.)