CulinaryCorps


Day 4 – Camp Hope
September 17, 2007, 10:18 pm
Filed under: September '07 Trip

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Camp Hope is the volunteer housing for Habitat for Humanity’s building efforts in the New Orleans area. It is a massive elementary school refitted to house 1500 volunteers at a time. Along with the manpower hours, comes the responsibility to feed those volunteers hungry from a hard days hammering.

Chef Frank and his assistant cook, Erin, coordinate AmeriCorps NCCC volunteers to create the meals. Each NCCC team rotates through the kitchen for a six-week stay. CulinaryCorps was charged with the task to teach the two newest teams – their first day in the kitchen was today – the tricks of the trade while tag-teaming dinner for the site.

After an overview of the basics of kitchen hygiene, safety and knife skills, we broke in to groups – AmeriCorps and CulinaryCorps side by side – and set about creating the meal while incorporating some basic cooking lessons.

NCCC volunteers are between the ages of 18-24 so many (if not most) have barely cooked in their home kitchens, let alone a professional one. To their credit, they were incredibly gracious students – stirring, blending, chopping and frying their way through the hours (and the un-air conditioned heat) with the best of us.

When the 5pm meal rolled around, the serving line was groaning with warm lentil salad, chicken in veloute, baked pasta with pink sauce, gazpacho with biscuit croutons, beet and bean salad, peach cake, potato and pea latkes, rice and ham salad and peach tofu pudding (for the vegans in the crowd – 5% of all Camp Hope volunteers).

Everything was made from what Camp Hope typically keeps in stock (and can afford on their limited budget) which means we had to get very creative with canned goods, frozen items and no butter. If the grins around the long canteen tables were any sort of sign, cooking within these confines was a challenge that was met and deliciously exceeded.

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The food was very good, I was amazed at how the chefs were able to turn canned foods and other foods at Camp Hope into something that you would find at a Four Star restaurant.

Comment by Khalik Freeman




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