Executive Chef, Culinary Volunteer Named First-Ever Philadelphia Small Business Community Hero | Newsroom

Executive Chef, Culinary Volunteer Named First-Ever Philadelphia Small Business Community Hero

Nov 19, 2014

Direct Energy      

 Executive Chef, Culinary Volunteer Named First-Ever Philadelphia Small Business Community Hero

Chef Valerie Erwin wins award for dedication to community 

Philadelphia, PA (November 19, 2014) –
Direct Energy honors Valerie Erwin, executive chef of Geechee Girl Rice Café, as the first-ever Philadelphia Small Business Community Heroes awardee for her dedication to community investment and volunteerism.

Erwin began her volunteer work in 2010 with “Seeds for Learning,” a program that taught high school students how to plant, grow, and prepare their own food. Through the high school program, Erwin taught students how to prepare recipes for family and friends via an annual demonstration. She has also hosted an annual event at her café for farmers where local residents sample the delicacies of fresh grown food.

More recently, she jumped into volunteering with students of the Careers through Culinary Arts Program, a program designed to pair culinary students with local businesses where they can acquire hands-on experience in a restaurant setting.

“Valerie’s dedication to giving back to the Philadelphia area epitomizes what we were seeking when selecting the first-ever Philadelphia Small Business Community Heroes award winner,” said Stephen Girard, head of small business, Direct Energy Business. “Not only is Valerie an inspiration to bolstering the small business community, she inspires many culinary students by being very active in the community, and through her small business.”

By winning the Philadelphia Small Business Community Heroes award, Direct Energy will donate $2,000 to the Philadelphia chapter of the Careers through Culinary Arts Program.  Additionally, Erwin received a $500 cash prize and was presented with a commemorative award.

Erwin was announced as the winner on CBS 3's Talk Philly.

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About Direct Energy

Direct Energy is one of North America's largest energy and energy-related services providers with over 6 million residential and commercial customer relationships. Direct Energy provides customers with choice and support in managing their energy costs through a portfolio of innovative products and services. A subsidiary of Centrica plc (LSE:CNA), one of the world's leading integrated energy companies, Direct Energy operates in 45 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia and 10 provinces in Canada. For more information, visit www.directenergy.com.

About Geechee Girl Rice Café
Geechee Girl Rice Café is a quaint restaurant located in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia. Geechee is one name for the enslaved West African peoples who lived on the Sea Islands and coastal areas of the Carolinas, Georgia, and northern Florida. They were experts in rice cultivation. Today, Chef Valerie Erwin builds upon traditional southern rice delicacies with world influences. For more information, visit http://www.geecheegirlricecafe.com/.

For media inquiries:
Andrea Romo                                  
Direct Energy                                                                                


Media Contacts


Jessica Michan
O: 713.904.7488
C: 713.805.7306

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