Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lenten Series #36: Spring Break Service Trip - Top/Iron Chef

One blessing of the trip was many of our meals were hosted by groups or individuals from the Atlanta area.  So usually during these trips, the group would have to cook dinner each night.  But the way it worked this year we only had to cook for two of the eight nights.  So I thought about it… And then it hit me let us do a “top chef/iron chef” competition. We would break up into two groups and they would have to decide their menu (3courses) and shop on a budget, and prepare the meal within 1.5hrs.  Since we had two days, one group would cook on Monday and the other on Tuesday. The group not cooking had free time during the preparation, however; they would be responsible for the games/icebreaker activity for after dinner. The students were ecstatic about this idea and could not wait to get it going.

I talked it over with Elizabeth (whose church we were using) and she suggested instead of having a particular ingredient, make it theme based.  The two easiest to think of and that would be familiar to everyone were Italian and Mexican.  Sunday evening we began the process. When it came to breaking up the groups we put everyone’s name in a cup and alternated with the picking. I then gave them an index card that had their “secret theme” on it. Group 1 had Mexican and Group 2 , Italian.  They were given 30minutes to plan their menus and to prepare their grocery list.  They were given a budget of $45 for ten people, which were also to include our beverages.

They also decided to compare list among the two groups to decide what they could purchase together in order to conserve.  After we planned the menu  we headed back to our sleeping quartered, and eventually made our way to  the 24hour Wal-Mart. It was about 10:45pm, and everyone was given 30minutes in the store before they had to meet me at the cashier.  The two groups had to shop, plus 1 person had to get our breakfast foods, and  two others had to get everything we needed for lunches, while I took care of our snacks and miscellaneous items for the week.  It was great watching them run up and down the aisles trying to get what they needed and meet us before their time was up.  Each group actually came close to their budget limit, but did not go over. Also, it was great seeing them work together. It was a very healthy competition even til the end.  It was interesting how the groups panned out. Group #1 had two strong characters who had to learn how to work together in the kitchen and understand that the meal had to come together and was not about their individual dishes, but he collective experience.

They kept asking me who won. I kept pushing it off because I know how folks get when they are criticized, and when you have to choose a winner amongst them. And I was clearly not just going to say everyone wins! So I finally told them while at dinner at Elizabeth’s on Friday who won and gave constructive criticism of their meals. (Yes, momma didn’t raise no fool, I waited til the last day).

On Monday (Mexican Night) the menu was:
Nachos (appetizer), pan fried breaded chicken, and vegetable fried rice (main course) strawberry smoothes (desert)

On Tuesday (Italian Night) the menu was:
Bruschetta (appetizer), Chicken Parmesan w/spaghetti noodles (main course) strawberry filled glazed cupcakes (desert)

Group #2 won the competition because of the extra work they put into the appetizers and dessert and their usage of the dining room décor in which we ate (e.g. sitting us under the chandelier, utilizing real plate-ware, etc.).What another great part of our trip together.  This activity provided another way for bonding to take place. It also was essential for each team member to work in unity and bring their own gifts to the table to help enhance the overall presentation of the group. Another reason why I love my job…being able to utilize unconventional techniques to provide teaching moments for my students. 

Peace, Love, and Prosperity, 

No comments: