This posting was submitted by Fr. Guerric Letter, O.S.B., a monk of Conception Abbey. Fr. Guerric has held several monastic job assignments, but he contributes this entry in his role as Kitchen Master.
On June 1, 2013 I began my assignment as Kitchen Master for Conception Abbey. Being just 31 years old, at the time, with virtually no experience in running a department here at the Abbey, I was placed in charge of eight full time employees and a kitchen that produces three meals a day for between 250-300 people.
Within the first couple of weeks Helga Sponaugle, Kitchen Manager; and Jerry Rivera, Administrative Assistant; gave me a crash course on several items. For example, they showed me how to read a budget sheet to know whether the kitchen is in the black or in the red. They taught me how to place in order for food using our food vendors’ websites. They taught me how to make nutritious menus for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. They taught me how to purchase for banquet meal for serving 300 people. The list could go on and on!
There is a lot of creativity within the kitchen like planning banquet menus and having the opportunity to try things that no one in the kitchen has prepared before. The meals we find the most fun are the ones where the staff has made something for their families (serving of 4) and now are making it for 300. In the Kitchen, we strive to make food that not only looks but tastes good, and be good stewards of our budget. There are many day to day challenges working here, but by working together we can get it done!