One Tuesday at the end of last quarter we were able to visit Laurence at NOPA restaurant for our 5th period afternoon class. Laurence Jossel, one of the owners of NOPA and Nopalito restaurants, has been a wonderful support to our cooking with teenage youth. From letting us forage in their walk-in to jumping in over the summer with over thirty interested teens without any warning, he has a magnetic way about him and a contagious passion about food and cooking.
I was amazed as he spent a few hours with us that afternoon in his restaurant as we peeled garlic together for one of the spreads used on pizzas. Amazed at how much value to cooking that could transpire as the students continually peppered him with questions. I wish I could have taped the conversation. He made peeling garlic a pleasure and the students loved the fact that we were making something people were going to pay for and enjoy, while a number of NOPA chefs made a point of coming over to admire our work. Our walk back to the high school was full of that excited talking after a wow experience. “He is a really nice guy,” was the unanimous refrain.
How do you measure the value of this afternoon? We know in our hearts that coming together around food is valuable and when we take it this direction, where community and food can connect with working practice, it opens unmeasured doorways in one’s mind. Thank you Laurence for keeping your door open with a smile.