This week, Adeline tells us about her experience in the kitchen preparing meals.
The meal preparation takes place in the morning, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. That way the food assembly and the deliveries can be conveniently done in the afternoon.
When I arrived at the Roulant, an employee greeted me and directed me to the kitchen. I met the two chefs of the day, Aida and Lizzi, two very friendly and dynamic young women. I was the first volunteer of the expected six, so I put on my apron and offered to help while waiting for the others.
Once all the volunteers were there, we gathered in a semi-circle to check in. Aida explained to us what we were going to be cooking that day: vegetable lasagna. Yum! After dividing up the tasks, Aida asked us to introduce ourselves and share with the group our favourite rainy-day recipe. I found this way of introducing ourselves to be very cool and unique. It kind of broke the ice and made us feel more comfortable right away.
With a little bit of background music, off we joyously went to cook!
For my part, I started by peeling and cutting potatoes to mash. It wasn’t for the dish of the day but the one planned for the next day. Sometimes the cooks are able to anticipate future tasks in order to save time. I worked in pairs with Caitlin, an English-speaking mother of two little boys. Her good humor was contagious, and we both had a good laugh.
Then I took care of cooking the kale and mixed it with the ricotta. I had never cooked kale before – it is similar to spinach when cooked in the sense that it shrinks a lot. Very happy to have discovered something new!
After that, it was time to move on to assembling the lasagnas. With my colleagues, we worked as a team. The counter was filled with large dishes in which we added a layer of tomato sauce, then a layer of the lasagna noodles, another of the ricotta/kale mixture, and finally a layer of grilled vegetables. We repeated these steps a second time and finished the dish by sprinkling on some grated parmesan.
While the dishes were cooking, we cleaned and put away the dishes. It was during this tidying up/cleaning phase that I got to know Nicolas, a friendly new French volunteer at Santropol, like me.
Before going home, I thanked the two chefs for welcoming and supporting me throughout the morning. All the volunteers left with a piece of cake: a gift for our contribution. It was a nice little touch that made me smile and want to come back!
Review of my experience
Here are some takeaways from my volunteer meal preparation shift:
- A friendly and caring team : Any questions we had, the chefs were happy and eager to help.
- A warm atmosphere among the group of volunteers : Everyone was positive and happy working together. It is a real place of exchange and sharing.
- An accessible experience for all : You don’t have to be an expert in the kitchen. The main tasks are cutting, cooking and assembling the food. Easy!
- A culinary discovery : This is a great opportunity to learn new recipes and experience new foods. With the invaluable advice of the chefs, you can even improve your own cooking skills.
Next week, I’ll take you along with me as I deliver meals to some of Santropol Roulant’s clients!