Starting A Cooking ClubMon 29 Oct 2012
Story by Sucheta Shankar
The éclair I had planned to devour hovered inches away from my face when I first heard the ingenious idea. My friend and I had been discussing potential summer projects that would help us fulfill one of the prerequisites necessary to obtain our International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma. As per IB requirements, students had to complete a total of 120 volunteer hours under three categories - Creativity, Action, Service.
Light Bulb Moment
Coming up with a general idea of a summer club was the easy part but deciding on what the nature of the club proved difficult. However, neither of us could agree since we had varied interests; the more we discussed the semantics of potential ideas, the more I focused on the éclair. Just as soon as I had started to internally rave about the dessert, I was bowled over by what I believed would be a great idea - a cooking club. While there was a decent number of students in the city that brought homemade lunches, there was still a sizeable number of students, like my friend, who ate junk food as meals. To me, the cooking club seemed like a perfect way to make teenagers more self-sufficient and gain more volunteer hours.
Ready, Set and Go!
As we further discussed the idea of a cooking club, we had started to look at how people ate around us differently. By the end of the day, we realized that a lot of people we knew in our classes were in the same predicament: namely, they don't know how to cook and their parents are too busy to pack homemade lunches. Our idea for the cooking club suddenly seemed like it had the capability to address a specific need within our academic community.
This realization gave us the final push to give our fantasy talk some solid foundation in reality. As we started to plan the project, we decided to incur all the expenses and in return collect non-perishable food items from our participants as our 'fee'. We planned to collected the 'fee' at the beginning of each class and dropped it off to different food banks at the end of each day. This final touch sealed the deal and M&S's Cooking Club was born.
Too Many Cooks…
After the intense marketing initiatives we took on, our final group was a great mix of participants with varying levels of experience. Our biggest fears dissipated as each day's effort resulted in a collaborative team dynamic and lots of delicious food. Despite the number of cooks in the kitchen, we managed to work out a system that kept the 'broth' intact. Our 'fee' system also met with positive results as our participants who eagerly donated items each day. At the end of the day, those of us who could cook became much better at it and those of us who couldn't would now be able to. We could all claim to be self sufficient cooks who were equipped with basic recipes and techniques to cook different and delicious meals.
It is always hard to define what people gained from this experience as personal growth is a private journey and often occurs subconsciously. However, I do know that every time I look at an éclair, I am filled not only with the exquisite taste but also with the bubbling sensation of happiness.
About the author: A recent graduate of Queen's University, Sucheta Shankar follows a strict diet that consists of a large serving of laughter with a side of mischievous pranks. Friends often say she turns apple red when she's angry (rarely) but otherwise is one cool cucumber. On a serious note, when she isn't reading, writing, graphic designing or sketching, Sucheta loves to make desserts especially profiteroles.
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