by Elizabeth DePaul
When traveling chef Sharon Holland is on the go, don’t expect her to grab fast food for a meal. The Germantown resident and culinary queen is the owner and head chef at Grabba Plate, Inc., serving up to the community delicious meals with a side of nutrition.
Holland, 44, established Grabba Plate, Inc. in 2006 as a way to educate people of all ages to better their diet by eating healthier meals. A native of Raleigh, North Carolina, Holland spent her childhood in the kitchen cooking for her family, where she not only discovered her passion but also saw the need arise for awareness regarding food education and diets.
Graduating from the International Culinary Schools at The Art Institute in Philadelphia and Wharton Small Business Development Center for Strategic Business Planning provided her with the solid base needed to share with others what she so avidly supported and believed in — spreading awareness concerning healthy eating through education. Grabba Plate, Inc. was created, its name an ode to hospitality and her passion to teach others.
And to this day, she does just that. As a traveling chef, Sharon goes wherever she’s needed — homes, churches or parties in the tri-state area. She teaches classes customized specifically for the client, ranging from a cooking demonstration to a lesson in preparing a meal. Grabba Plate, Inc. offers classes focusing on vegetarian cooking, healthy ingredients for diabetics, cooking for two and much more.
You can find her in the local community teaching numerous classes at the Mt. Airy Learning Tree, many of which are geared towards children. (She is not teaching in the current MALT semester.) Classes such as “Healthy Children’s Snacks” and “Smoothies and Juices” make kids aware of healthy alternatives to the chips and sodas that dominate so many diets. In the “What’s In Your Fridge?” class, Holland shows you how to take the food found in your fridge and turn it into a nutritious and delicious meal.
According to the traveling chef, the programs “strive to educate children not just on the diverse varieties of foods, but also how to properly run a kitchen, including lessons on kitchen tools.” It is Holland’s hope that the children share the knowledge they learn in her classes with their parents and families. The classes may focus on cooking, but Holland insists they also teach children teamwork, leadership, and good behavior — principles needed both in the kitchen, and in life.
Grabba Plate has no shortage of enthusiastic testimonials from customers who have used Sharon’s services. For example, Connie T., a local woman who used Grabba Plate for her husband’s surprise 40th birthday party, wrote: “I was deeply impressed with (Sharon’s) professionalism and skill. As an event planner and chef, she was courteous, honest and extremely patient with my many questions and requests … The food was hot, delicious and beautifully arranged. She was well organized, cheerful and incredibly professional during the entire event.”
Cecilia M., of the Circulation/Youth Program at the Montgomery County-Norristown Public Library, was delighted with Holland’s participation in their annual “Ladies Day Out” event. “We were quite impressed,” she wrote, “with the continual attention from (her) waitstaff as well as the presentation and quality of the food … Just the smell of the crispy fried chicken and perfectly spiced chicken stew attracted many people to the library.”
As for the future, Holland plans on continuing to travel and teach, and she hopes to eventually “start an education program for inner city schools once I receive the financial support I need. My personal career goal, however, is to have my very own cooking show.”