2014 Winner: Community Engagement Award
In 1999, Chef Peter Kuenzi set out to offer discerning Fox Valley residents fresh, fast urban gourmet fare to suit their busy lives and cosmopolitan tastes. Thus arose Zuppas Café, Market and Catering, where Kuenzi, a native of Oshkosh, Wis., prepares sophisticated cuisine for individuals and corporations throughout Northeast Wisconsin.
Trained at the famed Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., Kuenzi developed his signature style while cooking at upscale restaurants in Marco Island, Fla., and Chicago in the late 1980s.
Kuenzi returned to Northeast Wisconsin in 1992 to serve as executive chef for the Oshkosh Power Boat Club. With a loyal following of diners drawn to his unique offerings, Kuenzi pursued his next venture in 1996 — co-founding The Seasons, a chic restaurant in Appleton, Wis.
Three years later, Kuenzi opened Zuppas — Italian for “soup” — in downtown Neenah’s Marketplace building. His creative cuisine attracted a growing customer base, and in 2003, Kuenzi relocated Zuppas to its current home in Neenah’s Shops at Mahler Farms on S. Commercial Street.
Kuenzi appears regularly on Fox 11 WLUK-TV’s “Living with Amy,” sharing recipes and cooking tipsacross Northeast Wisconsin. He also has taught popular cooking classes at Appleton’s Williams-Sonoma and is a preferred caterer at upscale venues in the Fox Cities and beyond, including the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, Homestead Meadows and the Gardens of the Fox Cities in Appleton as well as The Waters and The Paine Art Center and Gardens in Oshkosh.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
Whether wearing the hat of Executive Vice President at Heid Music, board member for The Building for the Arts, or loving wife and mother of three, DeDe Heid is passionate about finding ways to give back with her time, talents, and financial support. Of her various roles, DeDe feels that raising her children, Braelyn (9), Gianna (6), and Otto (21 months), is the task that can leave the biggest imprint on the world. “To me, [giving back] is how we teach our children the value of community, what it means to be part of something bigger, and how not to take for granted anything we are privileged to have,” explains DeDe. “Being a part of the community and the non-profit realm pays you back ten-fold compared to what you have given; you meet excellent people as well as learn and develop as a person.”
Coincidence or not, Rebuilding Together-Fox Valley is exactly the organization that fueled DeDe’s passion for involvement in non-profits. Involved with RTFV for seven years, during six of which she served as president of the board, DeDe helped the team develop a strong year-round services program, increase Project Day to more than 20 homes and 1000 volunteers, and more than quadruple funding support. She explains, “RFTV started off for me as an experience to get involved with the community and learn as a board member, but it flourished into so much more.” She soon found herself surrounded by family members who were also inspired to jump on board and give back together. “My grandfather, at 80 years old, was out diligently helping us to rebuild homes. If an 80-year-old can do it, anyone can and should do it!”
Giving back to the community is no strange notion to the Heid family. In fact, Heid Music has held a cultural belief in community involvement since its founding days with Peter Heid, the grandfather of DeDe’s husband Todd. Through 65 years and three generations, the Heid family and company has continued to serve the communities in which they live. With five store locations and close to 100 employees, the impact of Heid Music reaches far and wide. “At any stage and any age, volunteering and music both have the unique ability to provide valuable fulfillment to a person,” DeDe states. “I owe much of my personal growth to these areas of my life, and I encourage you to explore them as well.”