The people of NOPA Restaurant do heartfelt work. As Laurence says, their employees are “nice, smart and hard working.” They truly are.
On Valentine’s Day NOPA closes their restaurants so the employees can take the time to volunteer throughout the City. For us that meant a group came and cleaned up our dormant garden (dormant thanks to a band of hungry 4 legged neighbors that we hope have moved on) to get ready to plant again.
And now we prepare for another generous involvement with NOPA. Our Long Table Dinner will morph into a Lunch at NOPA on Thursday March 15th, 1-2:30pm, in the middle of our March Fundraising Campaign. Tickets and more information will be available soon. We are totally excited!
Growth mindset? A lot of our students hadn’t heard this term. “You mean code switching?” Not really. It is more like a mental belief system, if that makes sense.
Yes, you can build your own inner thought structure. Teens normally give you pretty suspicious looks when you talk about this, but this quarter’s students were curious and one student was inspired enough to make this drawing.
I remember how shocked I was when I realized I could choose how I thought about something. Ask any baker, gardener, even avid walker or runner (or try this yourself) and you might also find that getting your hands busy in something helps uncover this ability and helps you step above that frenetic frontal lobe, much like a sea bird coasting over the ocean. The mind/body connection is stronger than we allow it to be. So my reminder this quarter to myself is when in doubt (or worry), to put down the screen and get my hands busy.
We are already in our 2nd quarter, with a new group of students and are they excited about this upcoming Long Table Dinner! Please join us on Thursday November 9th, 6-8pm for a delicious and heart warming meal.
Link to more information and tickets is hereor can be found by copying and pasting this into your browser:
Please reserve your tickets before prices go up or we sell out! We look forward to serving you.
It has been awhile. A lot has happened with events, garden work, graduation, even childbirth (congratulations Debbie and Chris!!!).
This isn’t the first time I’ve posted the skills and values our students identify at the beginning of each quarter, this set being from our most recent class. But it is a place of beginnings (most of us love fresh starts) and these again remind me of a few things.
First and foremost: students know what they need. Second, when I read these again, I am struck with how much these are skills and values that I want too, which is pretty heartwarming. It may not immediately create a common bond, but is a reminder that we are not that different from each other after all.
The hard part as the weeks progress (and it is only 8-9 weeks that we have together) is to sustain our values while keeping sight of our progress when challenges pop up.You’re having problems with friends or another teacher and aren’t in the mood to work, or you get distracted with others in class and miss some vitals in a recipe.
Any teen may not realize that this happens to all of us and in the workplace all the time. We all make mistakes and have off days. Sometimes what happens next are the best times in class, when we show our human-ness, responding to mistakes without getting personal or reactive (which are learned skills achieved only through practice). What could get charged up becomes an “oh” moment instead, not so bad, and the new understanding brings in a glimmer of trust. We start making connections as a kind of middle ground forms. Then people get a little braver, a little more trusting – and then a “wow” moment happens – what we made is delicious! Trust leads to accomplishment, leads to appreciation, leads to giving, leads to feeling great about giving, leads to creating even more. It is the magic of cooking together.
Happy February 2017 Everyone! This quarter our new batch of students are keeping us busy, inspiring us to work harder (and better). Lots of great teamwork and excitement is building as we head towards our next Long Table Dinner.
That’s right – Long Table Dinner8 will be on Thursday March 2nd, 2017, 6-8pm.
This is a working kitchen now. I stayed late on this afternoon to finish canning the last batch of grape jelly, made from donated grapes (NaStar Farms) and Barbera grape juice (Muir Made) – no pectin, so it is a softer texture – good for glazing sweet or savory items, or even as a bit of a drizzle on some cheese. There are more donations under the window – fresh quince which have such a welcoming fragrance – and soon will become another delicious preserve.
We’ve been incredibly lucky with the bounty coming into the classroom – thank you! And our students are tackling the large quantities with gusto as we gear up for our first Long Table Dinner in two years.
Here are a few shots of class over these past few weeks, a Jamaican themed menu from last week, and an Asian dumpling inspiration on another week:
What impresses me most right now is the very determined nature of our students. It is compelling – and it will definitely come in handy in the weeks ahead!
As we turn our menu discussions towards the Long Table Dinner, (LTD 7!) we hope you will set aside the evening of Thursday October 6th and join us for this fun event where we will turn our newly renovated main hallway into a pop-up dinner venue, for a delicious multi-course meal made and served by our students.
Menu details and a link to tickets to follow soon!
Wow. The end of May blew my mind. We knew we were moving. All of a sudden here we are, unpacking. In our newly tiled kitchen. With windows. Real working windows!
You know what? I cried a little.
Continuing around the room, there is one feature we are particularly proud of, something very important. Perhaps only some chefs drool at the idea of a new hood. It is that shiny silver thing on the ceiling, center back. This allows you to bring in the fire power of professional cooking. For us that happens to be a 6 burner gas range. (We like to keep things small yet powerful.) And where exactly is that firepower? It is waiting patiently outside the room while contractors figure out the easiest way to squeeze it in. We know it will happen.
So enough basking in this for a bit. What helped us get through this past year and a half while our culinary classroom was being created? Our students and their resilience first and foremost, and their willingness to try a hybrid version of our class, definitely. And there are many more people who helped keep us reaching week after week:
Dan Scherotter, he allowed us to use the OC Culinary space part time, which allowed us to actively work with our students again- so important!
BiRite Markets, what great staff! In their busy business, they seamlessly found ways to bring in a few of our students as produce interns at their Divisadero Street store. They are a stellar example of great teamwork in action.
NOPA Restaurant, so generous and gracious with our intern there! True support and best training ground for hospitality and life.
De Young Museum Cafe, Jason finding a way to give our students a chance. Thank you for creating another great workplace and for your involvement!
AOHTFS & CTE – Oh acronyms. These are our academy board and district department. School districts have to be steeped in accountability, but it is artful how in working with these two groups, we can feel that their supporting us in our work is their priority.
And most of all, the people I get to work with at Ida B. Wells, in particular: Debbie Guardado and Michael Martinez. One can’t keep doing the same thing over and over (isn’t that the definition of insanity?). Having a team who understands the heart behind the heat keeps that most important spark going.
Students always give the best advice on what to teach.
We got this advice at the beginning of this past quarter when we asked students:
What skills do you want to improve? What values are important to you?
Our take aways from this past quarter are more than just the pictures in this post may relate, but these speak so much to what we are practicing in our work simulation classes. You can’t think yourself into improving these skills and holding to these values, you have to practice them. And I wanted to acknowledge them and the hard work of our 3rd quarter students before heading into our 4th and last quarter of the school year. Thank you students! Before we know it, we will be packing up and moving back into our school site and a brand new kitchen! I’m glad that this advice will go with us.