Sunday, 18 November 2012

Cooking for God

The Milton Conquest Boys' Club has just completed its first ever cooking school, and from all reports, the culinary skills of the twelve boys involved have undergone a major transformation.

Under the guidance of Conquest leader Marvin Duarte, and a professional team from Longo's Stores Ltd., the boys attended three classes of three hours each, on consecutive Saturday mornings at the Milton Longo's Store. The aim of the Kids Culinary Community is to teach children the importance of food, in that it provides nourishment, strength, and a way to connect to one another.

Another thing a cooking class does for the Conquest boys is teach them the importance of a family meal, and the hard work and dedication which are the foundation of such family traditions. With the proliferation of gadgetry, young boys are spending way too much time staring at the electronic screen, and way too little time watching their parents cook. How are they to learn the basics if they are not even in the kitchen?

Chef Mike, Chef Kim and Chef Maria teamed up to provide top notch culinary guidance as the boys made home-made pasta from scratch, tasty meatballs and two kinds of pasta sauce, freshly cooked garlic bread and home-made brownies. And that was just one class. In addition to sitting down at the tables and enjoying the fruits of their labours after the class, the boys also got to take any leftovers home so that their parents and siblings could taste their fare.

On the last day, the boys were given an authentic diploma at the graduation ceremony, and the invited guests got to sit down to a delicious lunch which had been prepared and cooked by the boys that very morning.

One might ask, “What does a cooking class have to do with the Milton Boys' Club?”

The answer is, “Plenty.” First of all, the Conquest activities which involve eating always begin with the saying of Grace, and this ritual begins to have its effect over time. The boys are asked to settle down and listen to the words. They are asked to show appreciation for the food which they are about to enjoy, and most importantly, they take the time to thank God for his limitless generosity.

But at the cooking classes, this activity took on very special meaning for the boys because they were the ones who did the preparation and cooking for a change. What they were thanking God for was their own cooking, and so Grace seemed to take on a special importance for them.

The boys also got to see the hard work which goes into a clean-up after a great deal of food has been prepared. This too, gave the boys a deeper appreciation of what goes on in their own homes day after day, week after week and month after month. As if to illustrate this lesson, little Noah could be found kneeling under a table picking up individual crumbs after the kids had made an apple crumble.

In the movie, Babette's Feast, a professional chef cooks up a masterpiece for a group of elderly people who have never been served a fancy banquet. She puts her heart and soul into the meal, and she does all the work out of her love for this group of elderly residents. This indeed, is an example of cooking for God.

In many ways, what the Conquest boys did at the cooking classes was basically the same idea.. They cooked for each other, and for their guests on the final day. They had to concentrate on producing food which would be presentable and tasty, and of which they would be proud.

In effect, what they did was cook for God, because when we put love and generosity into our cooking, that is what we are doing. Perhaps the next time they can go one step further and donate some of their cooking to a soup kitchen.

Now that would really be cooking for God.

Rod McDonald

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