“Hard work should be rewarded with good food.”Ken Follett
At Ironwood the residents are given the opportunity to learn how to cook, store food properly, make menu plans and everyone’s favorite part of dinner, washing dishes! Throughout the Ironwood journey students rotate through each of these roles over time and are supported by their more tenured peers. We have access to a wealth of resources such as nutritional guides, ingredient inventories, recipe lists, and proportion charts. Staff oversee this process, offering advice and encouragement to those new to this skill but ultimately the end results all fall on us (residents).
Each night and at each campus, we make a homemade dinner for about 25 people. One or two students are designated Chefs and they cook a meal for their entire group (Frye or Farmhouse) In addition to the Chef, this dinner is made by small groups of students who share responsibility for different parts of the meal. While some are cooking, others in the group are setting up flatware, taking out the trash, preparing serving materials and completing other various community chores. The luckiest of students are waiting for their responsibilities of washing all of the pots and pans afterwards!
As a monthly highlight, residents are selected to participate in an Ethnic Night. Students are assigned different roles and parts of the meal (appetizer, entree, dessert) and spend time researching their specific category to request the items and resources needed to complete this task. This activity gives residents a day to connect with their own ethic background, or learn to embrace another type of culture. It is a very fun and exciting event that is enjoyed by all. In addition to cooking, students are required to create a verbal presentation showcasing the history and facts of a specific culture associated with this meal. A while back, my month’s Ethic Night was centered around Jamaican Cuisine.
Though it is just one aspect of our daily responsibilities, it is one of the most important and the most cherish by each of us. I am excited to be able to take the skills that I have learned in the kitchens at Ironwood, so that I can cook for my family when I return home.