“What does being a chef mean to you?” It’s a question I’ve asked myself over the years and if you were to ask a group of cooks I’m sure you’d get all sorts of answers. All of those answers would be valid, but for me, it comes down to nourishing people. Being a chef you have a responsibility to feed and nourish people.
During the pandemic, my local farmstand burned down after being the target of arson for the better part of 3 months. Not only was I heartbroken for the owners, but also for the community that depended on the affordable and culturally appropriate produce and groceries that could be found there. Located on the corner by a bus stop and owned by Chinese immigrants, my farm stand became a place I would frequent multiple times a week. Over time, it began to feel like one of the places where I could feel a connection to people and my community.
When the final fire became the last straw for the owners I began to ask myself more questions. It started out with a simple, “How can I help” and began a thread of thinking: “How can I share my knowledge and abilities while being involved with the community? Can I be part of positive change in food systems? What is important to me and what do I stand for?” As I started to find the answers, or at least direction towards these answers, I began to see that there were ways my skill set could be of help.
Eventually, I found a position at HIP and decided to apply. I came in unsure of what to expect, but have approached every day with the knowledge that I’m providing nourishing food, and doing it surrounded and helped by incredible people doing incredible work. For all of this, I am grateful, and while I find myself still saddened by the closure of my local farm stand I can’t help but think the events had something to do with my current path.
Senior Meal Program Manager