Chef’s Club

It’s been five days without Louis. Time helps. Writing helps. Being alone helps. Being with people helps. Having a schedule of activities helps, too.

Chef’s Club met this week. My kids are lucky enough to go to a school where three of the kids there have a grand-aunt who is a gourmet chef. Chef Monica Thomas, a Certified Personal Chef and owner of Tailored Taste Personal Chef Service, adopted our school as part of the Chefs Move To Schools program and has been teaching over fifty kids how to cook. For Monica, it’s a family affair. Her sister, her niece-in-law, her grandnephew and nieces are all there. And I, along with three other volunteers, get to help out. When good food is around, it’s hard to resist building a community.

Thanks to Chef’s Club, these kids have cooked and eaten, some for the first time, things like arepas, sushi, gazpacho, sweet potato biscuits, and shakes made from fresh pears, ginger and oats. They’ve worked with ingredients that include jicama, prosciutto, kelp, quinoa, flax seeds, red bean paste, bison and an array of herbs and spices.

Not only are the kids introduced to new foods and cultures, they’re also taught to respect food because someone took the time and care to grow and harvest this tomato. Let’s respect that, and be grateful. The first rule of Chef’s Club: You do not say YUCK. If you don’t like it, you say, “It’s not my cup of tea.” The second rule of Chef’s Club: You do not talk about Chef’s Club. Please excuse me for breaking rule 2.

This last meeting was special to me. We met a couple days after we lost our puppy, and it was good to see my kids surrounded by supportive friends. We made prosciutto cheese muffins. While waiting for the muffins to bake, I was in the kitchen washing dishes with a group of five or six kids next to me, each with a towel ready to dry. We talked, giggled and laughed. The laughter was contagious. By the way, 11-year-olds get a real kick out of the word OXYMORON.

What is it about a kitchen that makes people share stories?

Toward the end of the meeting, two of the volunteers and I stayed in the kitchen telling stories about losing our pets. How utterly painful it is. How they’re like members of the family. This one made me laugh:

We’re talking about adults here. A room full of grown adults. We’re weeping. We’re all standing at the vet’s around our dog. He was this big sturdy husky. He was old and tough. It runs in our family like our grandmother from Iowa who lasted forever. But we had to put him down finally when he couldn’t stand anymore. We loved this dog. So, we’re weeping, wailing, sobbing. A room full of sobbing adults. So, the vet comes in and gives our dog the injection, and we’re crying and crying, and nothing happens. The dog is looking at us like yeah this feels good, I like this drug. So, the vet comes back and has to give him another injection. And still nothing happens. The dog won’t die. By this time, we’re all like, ok, it’s time. But the dog is still looking at us. Vet comes back again and has to give him a third injection. At this point, we’re done with the crying and we’re just standing there waiting when my son suddenly says, “Is this dog from Iowa?”

For more about Chef Monica Thomas, visit

Published in: on December 7, 2012 at 1:16 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Dear Patti: I am trying to be in contact about your wonderful novel A Cab Called Reliable. I work at Washington State University and am publishing an academic study on Asian American women’s literature. I am hoping to use a couple of excerpts from you book. If you could please contact me at the e-mail address I submit, I would be so grateful.

    Your faithful fan,

    Pamela Thoma

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