Kim's Excellent Adventure to NOLA
There's a big suitcase nearly filled to the gills causing traffic in my bedroom. Instead of cute outfits and light reading about my intended destination, my bags are packed with kitchen garb and gear -- chef's coats and baggy pants, clogs, do-rags, a heap of crusty T-shirts, a knife kit, plenty of Vitamin C, and if there's room, a portable burner.
This morning, I am headed for New Orleans, where I will be joining 15 other cooks whose luggage contents will be nearly identical to mine. We are flying in from all points around the country to cook for others in need and to cook up awareness for a city still recovering and rebuilding, nearly two years since Hurricane Katrina.
For the next week, we will collaborate as members of Culinary Corps, a new organization dedicated to bringing culinary professionals into the fold of community service. It is the brainchild of Christine Carroll, a former Americorps VISTA volunteer in Alaska and recent graduate of the French Culinary Institute in New York.
Carroll has identified several projects that our group will be involved with, including Emergency Communities, a disaster relief camp in the Lower Ninth Ward, where for two days, we will be cooking lunch and dinner for hundreds of families still living in FEMA trailers or without access to shelter basics such as running water or three square meals. On other days, we'll be working with kids at the Edible Schoolyard New Orleans, the schoolyard garden program founded by Alice Walters of Chez Panisse fame in Berkeley, Calif., as well as CafÃ© Reconcile, a culinary training program for at-risk teens. There's a farmer's market focus, which I'm thrilled about, and one day, we're headed down to the Gulf, for a first-hand look at the shrimping and oystering industries that were ravaged by the storm.
I must sign off, as I've got to zip up my bags, but don't worry, I wont be disappearing into the Bayou sunset. All week long, I'll be filing dispatches in this very space, and through text and photos, bringing this forgotten city to you.
Wish us luck!
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