Salvation Army Chef Creates Savory Dishes Designed to Nourish Body & Soul
Everyone loves a good meal – especially those in Portsmouth, Ohio, who cannot afford to buy one.
The Salvation Army, located at 1001 9th St. Portsmouth, Ohio, makes it a priority to feed the hungry, but not just with routine meals. They now employ an executive chef to prepare each day’s delicious entrees. Harl Goplerud, from White Plains, New York, has been on staff as the head cook at The Salvation Army for a few months and is already a hit among clients.
“I was volunteering here about a year ago when the cook left,” Goplerud said. “I was asked if I could fill in, and I thought it would be fun to give back because the need is definitely there.”
Goplerud, who was semi-retired at the time, started to volunteer at The Salvation Army after his wife Nancy, food service director for Aladdin Dining Services at Shawnee State University, suggested it was a good way to give back. Working in the food service industry has been a lifelong pursuit for the Gopleruds who were previously in the catering business together for 11 years.
The Salvation Army relies on food donations, so Goplerud takes what is given and adds his own special touches to prepare a wonderful meal each day.
“Making and preparing food is my passion,” he said. “It makes a difference to me. We are limited in resources, but I can still make food interesting and fun and make the people happy. I like it when they smile because it’s good.”
Goplerud takes pride in what he serves the community and appreciates the positive feedback he receives.
“They seem to love my spaghetti and meat loaf,” he said. “And the alfredo is always a hit!”
Goplerud served in the U.S. Navy from 1986-1992 and attended culinary school in Asheville, North Carolina. He worked as a chef for two Marriott hotels and served as the executive chef at Lander University in South Carolina.
“I try to keep it simple. That’s the way I taught students in culinary school,” he said. “I use spices but not enough to overwhelm the taste. The pallet can only translate so much. I make sure everything is seasoned well but I never go overboard.”
On Mondays, Goplerud makes his famous meat loaf or pork roast, while Tuesday’s lineup includes homemade soup and sandwiches. “We always make the soup from scratch,” he
said. “Anyone can pour soup from a can. We make sure ours is homemade.”
Goplerud says he loves to make breakfast each Wednesday. This menu includes French toast, bacon, fruit, oatmeal, pancakes, or egg casserole. Thursdays usually feature ham or turkey with stuffing.
“It’s kind of like a Thanksgiving meal every week here.”
Each Friday, leftovers are always on tap because Goplerud doesn’t like to waste anything. “I’ll create something simple like grilled ham and cheese sandwiches with macaroni salad,” he said.
He will even make a pumpkin cheesecake if he gets the appropriate donations.
“We had a cake mix so we made a berry cobbler for the community,” he said. “We also make fruit cocktail too. Everyone loves that.”
As long as he is the cook at The Salvation Army in Portsmouth, Goplerud will continue to make magic in the kitchen. “It’s my passion,” Goplerud added. “I love to give back and when I do, I always give my best.”