Heat of the Kitchen helps underserved youth realize their amazing value through active, professional practice. By cooking, cleaning and serving together, we connect in ways that last long after the dishes are done.
It’s time to hit the reset button and relax and begin to tell a wonderful story. Especially since I did hit the website reset button a little early (!) – please bear with the mid-renovation style of our current website as we prepare to add more features.
I’m eager to share that we are in the midst of a new project which is still “in the rough” like the constantly changing storm that is 2020. But there is refreshed satisfaction in doing something that has value.
Our new project? In short, we’ve found a way to provide ingredients and a virtual cooking class for our students to make a meal for their family once a week. We’ll add more content soon, such as recipes, packing saves, and provider highlights.
What started out as a crazy idea has become something that matters. Every week, we figure out better ways to pack and deliver groceries and communicate with our students. It couldn’t happen without the leading drive and creativity of our teachers, Chefs Debbie & Mariah.
This may not be the taproot of what Heat of the Kitchen has been all about, or maybe it is? Making connections and witnessing our students’ pride in their work are key strivers for us. To hear a student suddenly say “This tastes really good” is music to our ears.
More soon, just wanted to share our excitement, even in the midst of our website renovations.
***Yes, our 3/12 Long Table Dinner Event is now canceled. ***
Yes, it was a sad decision to make but our students always give us hope, as well as all of you who reserved seats and sent us emails and texts of support! Thank you!
We hope to salvage our plans to perhaps create an internal event in the near future and who knows? It might be just what our school needs.
All of a sudden, it is the start of another school year, our 11th! And every year there is always excitement and a touch of nervousness that makes us each wonder if we are truly ready. Smiles work wonders to let us know we are in the right place at the right time.
But before things really get moving again, we want to thank our summer collaborators:
OFA: Opportunities For All gave us the chance to work with a cohort of 24 youth ages 12-18. It was our first summer offering and it was so worth it! The youth once again inspired us in how they tackled recipes and created their own cookbook.
Bi-Rite Family of Businesses generously featured us this month as a community partner! We are grateful for their kindness in how they have supported our program over the years and are honored to be a featured community partner.
Thank you both for the opportunities you’ve continued to provide us!
Now back to school. We look forward to getting “into the weeds” soon and planning our next Long Table Dinner. Stay tuned and Happy August!
The Green Room Gala was definitely our biggest event ever. All of those crazy moments were worth it to gather together such wonderful people, for a wonderful purpose.
Behind the scenes, there were people who showed up early and kept that sense of assurance when the going got stressful. Thank you to the ladies from NOPA and Nopalito who were there all the way through, and to the incredible chefs Tu David Phu, Yaku Moton-Spruill and Michael Martinez, for keeping the tempo and redirecting as needed to handle the last minute needs. Thank you to our donors, volunteers and almost daily cheerleaders especially these constants: Bi-Rite Family of Businesses, Josey Baker Bread, Nopalito and Gus’s Community Markets. And most of all, an extra special thank you to the youth participants who said YES, at every step and stayed on their feet and smiled all the way until the very end!
Here is a link to the video shown at the event. Whetstone Media, it is so great to work with you and how well you instantly understand our work. We look forward to what the future will bring!
Every quarter feels like a whirlwind. And this past quarter was no exception, and with extra good reasons. Here are some-
October 5th, National Manufacturer’s Day: where our District 5 Supervisor Brown’s office worked with OEWD to bring in 4 small, local manufacturers to tell our students their story. It was such a great way to affirm with our students the hope and drive and support that is out there. Here is a pearl of wisdom from each of these small business manufacturers:
don’t wait for an invitation, don’t hold yourself back, push yourself to take chances (Kelly McVicker, McVicker’s Pickles)
find what you are good at, and then reach out for help (Smitten Ice Cream Ladies)
failing in the moment is not failing in the bigger picture – take the golden nuggets (Josey Baker, Josey Baker Bread)
follow your passion, follow your nose, you never know where it might lead (Christian, San Franpsycho)
Special thanks to Shakirah Simley of Vallie Brown’s office (and Vallie Brown!), Susan Ma of OEWD and Rima Vora of SF Made for their additional help and support in making this happen.
Next, our October 12th Long Table Dinner was a success, in a heartfelt way with our diving into Aleppo. When we think of that first week with our students and compare that with our last week with them, their growth and drive are as inspiring as these small business owners.
It takes looking back and seeing that, wow, we really did do a lot, and more importantly that it meant something – to us, to our guests, and most importantly, to our students.
It is always busy this time of year, everyone is digging deep to finish off school with accomplishment. It is hard to stay intentional as opportunities fly around and distractions tempt all of us- all of the time, time, time.
But way back in January, we were meeting with Sheryl Davis, Director of the Human Rights Commission, who mentioned that Dr. Cornel West was going to be in town giving a lecture in April and that there might a be a pre-reception needing help.
We don’t cater. Cooking and eating and serving together is what we do, because of the lasting connection and self-value it builds. We want the full arc of experience for all of our students. But this was a different kind of opportunity.
And we are so glad we did it! The students made hundreds and hundreds of empanadas, prepped vegetables and sauces and the group of students who could come with us were happy to serve. And – bonus alert- we got to attend Dr. West’s lecture afterwards. It is rare to witness a speaker who is able to call out layers of injustice in a real way and still leave the audience invigorated and inspired. There is so much work to do and we need to do it.
In our rush, we again were hardly able to take pictures, but here is one of Chef Mariah with Dr. West. Thank you Dr. West, Director Davis & The Human Rights Commission for giving us this opportunity. We would cater for this one again!
Thursday lunch time mid-March. Scattered showers mirrored our morning sensibilities as we worked on something new: bringing our high school students into one of San Francisco’s best restaurants to serve lunch to 40 unfamiliar guests. Some might call this a culminating collaboration between education and industry. We were wondering as culinary teachers if maybe we had bitten off more than we could chew, so to speak. It is always that way before an event, isn’t it?
Our culinary class models itself on the best in a back of house restaurant situation most days, as we cook, eat and serve together in an 8-9 week time frame. This event brought it all to a new level in a wonderfully real way- with hospitality. True hospitality.
Laurence Jossel, one of the owners of NOPA often mentions the job requirements to work in his kitchen: you have to be nice, smart and hardworking – and out of those three? Nice is first and foremost. As a guest walking into NOPA, it is almost as if you’ve entered your friend’s (very nice) dining room. There is a clear sense of care and human-ness and value that is calming. And the people of NOPA have been there ready to help us whether it has been volunteering in our garden and classroom to supporting our students in our kitchen or theirs. So yes, the people at NOPA understand this true hospitality, in the front of house, the back of house and in the community.
Maybe this goes without saying, but it seems easier these days for people to just look at the service surface of hospitality without understanding the strength underneath. When you look up this word hospitality, the root is ghosti , one and the same for both guest and host. We are in it together.
There is a sense of ownership that happens when you serve the food you’ve made that you know is good, and we find ourselves, even our shyest selves, moving from not just “owning” the food we make to then wanting to share it with others. We hear students new to working an event say “I didn’t know it felt this good to serve people food” and “I loved it when they appreciated us.” Only hospitality can create that experience, this giving value to one another. Thank you NOPA for teaching and reaching our students with your care and hospitality.
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!
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!