Reflecting and Looking Ahead in the Turner Farm Teaching Kitchen
By Chef Stephanie Michalak, Turner Farm Culinary Manager
I always get really excited for impending projects and upcoming events here at Turner Farm—it’s what keeps it invigorating and multifaceted for me as a chef. There’s still a lot that I would like to implement and develop here. Even though I tend to push for quick turn-arounds, I’ve learned that things take time and the Teaching Kitchen has a lot we can still do to continue to be better stewards of ourselves, our community, and the land we use. However, I do think it is just as important, if not more, to reflect on the past; its challenges, triumphs, and opportunities, to truly seize the eventual future. With 2018 coming to a close and the brink of 2019 on the horizon, the Turner Farm Teaching Kitchen has much to reflect on and appreciate over just the last twelve months, as well as a tremendous amount to look forward to.
Over just this past year alone, the Teaching Kitchen has had more than a thousand people through its doors, solely for classes open to the public! Many of these individuals have been longstanding champions of Turner Farm for longer than the Teaching Kitchen has been in existence. We have a remarkable support system between CSA members, patrons at our farm market and at farmers markets, farm volunteers, summer camp parents and kids, and even our employees, apprentices, board members, and their family members. Some of those who have walked through the Barn Studio doors have been brand new to Turner Farm and have now become an essential part of our amazing community.
I could not be more humbled and honored to have shared memories and moments with many of you over the last year and hope to continue creating exciting classes and events. In the past year, the Teaching Kitchen has welcomed additional staff including Amy Francis as our sous chef. Of course, I honestly couldn’t imagine doing what we do here without my other half at work, Mary Joseph, the Director of Events.
In the past year we’ve added a host of new classes with context that encompasses topics from beverage knowledge and cuisine courses to seasonal salad workshops. We also hosted a public-dining event celebrating the full moon in June; creating a vivid (and edible!) snapshot of what was available on the farm and from other local farms during the event. We’ve seen many classes gain popularity as our best kept little secret, the Teaching Kitchen, gains exposure through social media, gracious written pieces, word-of-mouth, and continued support from each of you!
In the coming year (and years), we hope to keep expanding our class offerings to include more kid-friendly/family-focused classes, and more date nights, even as we bring back seasonal class favorites with updated content, and a few surprises here and there! We plan to continue to connect what is happening out in the fields and pastures, and minimize our food miles and waste, as well as inspire you and your loved ones to keep (or even start!) cooking with more confidence and zeal. We strive to be an active and dynamic player within the surrounding community and hope to empower others to critically analyze food-related issues and gain their own sense of food sovereignty.
Most importantly, we hope that we can aid you in your own food journey and intend to keep ourselves open to learning and growing with you all!