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.
It has been a long time! But we have some exciting news to share as we get deeper into fall and winter:
We are able to cook together again while at John O’Connell’s campus! This is a hybrid version of our regular class(3 days a week we travel down to the kitchen classroom), but being able to get active again is huge! We truly appreciate Chef Dan and the staff at John O’Connell who have helped make this happen. It is making a big difference to our students, to be able to actively cook together again. Pictures soon, just wanted to share our excitement now!
Reality: In the rush of requirement, it is hard to keep meaning going in the classroom, particularly with writing. We recently offered journaling in class as a way to give students time to write in an open ended fashion. More than one student stared back at us in disbelief. “What do you mean, just write?”
“Yes, we said, just fill the page.” Some of them got into it. So when we offered blog post writing for some additional credit, several gravitated towards the opportunity. The agreement: entries would be posted unfiltered, unedited and anonymous. As agreed, we’ve started to link them using a very basic tumblr blog. You can read them too. Here is the link, which can also be found on our students page: http://idabstudentswrite.tumblr.com/ I can hear their voices and it means a lot to me that they shared their thoughts. We’re offering this blog posting opportunity again, and will keep updating it as we go along.
Help keep the rain dance going with us this Monday April 6th at John O’Connell High School 4-7pm! CUESA has worked with the garden at this school for years and here is our chance to bring it back after a year of dormancy. Heat of the Kitchen classes will then continue with the garden until our move back to Ida B. Wells. A great opportunity for us to continue a hands-on connection with work and food!