A letter of thanks to our kitchen staff from Lindie and the Drake Crisis Program Youth Workers:
Cooking Group has been wildly successful at our Drake Crisis Program in the past 10 months. At first, it was just “Cooking with Casey”, a trademark activity so popular that a youth in shelter painted a small canvas with those words on it. The canvas is hanging on the inspiration wall to be seen just as you enter our girl’s Crisis Program. Since then, other kitchen staff have joined in on the fun as well and each member of the kitchen team gives the group a different flavour.
Chef Monica is very detailed in her approach, always printing out enough recipes for all those who attend so they can take it with them afterward. A lot of practical skills are learned in Monica’s cooking class: knife handling, measuring, converting recipes etc. Although Monica always starts with a recipe, she also shows the youth how to problem solve when things don’t match the paper, all the while with a joke and a smile that make the youth feel comfortable.
Chef Francisco, our newest addition to Cooking Group, makes downright delicious food. He is very calm and patient while leading the class and helps the youth to understand why different vegetables make food taste a certain way. He teaches the youth how to be efficient and make tasty meals.
Chef Casey brings a youthful energy when she leads the class, giving the youth many choices before and during the class about what they are cooking and how they will do it. She encourages music to be playing and engages the youth in positive conversations while cooking. She remembers the things the youth have said to her previously and follows up with them. This forges a bond with the youth and keeps them coming back. Casey often makes fun, popular food like cupcakes, nachos, pizza and countless other dishes. Two weekends ago, Casey went all out. We called it Cooking Group Special Edition. That day, we made chicken stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped with bacon and on the side, a homemade delicious potato salad. It was special, and the youth learned how to make something easy but elegant.
Cooking class has no doubt been a lot of work for the kitchen staff to take on and all the youth workers know how much extra effort you put in. We know you sometimes have to stay late because the group went too long or the other tasks fell behind. We appreciate you so much for taking the time out of your day to help the youth learn practical skills around preparing food and having fun while doing so. This teaches the youth that cooking can be non-intimidating and fun. In the future this will help them to make the choice to save money. Cooking Group is also a source of Sanctuary, as we all know weekends can be a really temping time for youth to leave the Crisis Program and engage in less healthy activities. Having the structure of Cooking Group every week has become a constant for the youth, they ask in advance… “What are we making this week?!”
Thank you for all that you do, we appreciate you!