Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Second Set of Lessons from a Week-Long Bible Camp, Part 9

This is my last round of lessons from operating a camp kitchen at a week-long children's Bible camp. I'll post relevant information as I come across it.

I'm sure that I can come up with a second camper's dozen with little effort. I could write 13 more lessons on the topic of food safety alone--not necessarily lessons from this year's camp but from three decades in the culinary arts. These lessons are dedicated to those who're going to head up a kitchen at a children's camp.

Don't Forget De-Mobilization

Unless you operate a year-round kitchen, you need to start thinking about home. Emergency responders (police, fire, medical) call this process de-mobilization. Often, thousands of firefighters and support personnel are called to the large wildland fires. As the fire progresses and the firefighters get it contained, the staff works on a plan to make an orderly transition from from full mobilization to de-mobilization.

Cooks at FC Camp clean the Wolf range (foreground) and the convention oven Friday morning last year.

Early in the week, make plans to distribute leftover food and supplies, pack cookware and utensils (remember the two-dozen Dutch ovens that you carried to camp?) and clean and return the kitchen back to the facility manager.

Other questions come to mind:

  • Do you have a plan in place to clean all of the equipment in the kitchen?
  • Are all kitchen employees staying to the end? Or are some staff leaving early?
  • Does staff need reimbursement for food purchases?
  • Do you need to account for lost/broken equipment, utensils or dinnerware?
  • What time does the kitchen need to ready to turn back to facility managers?
  • Do you have equipment to pack and transport home (like, 300 pounds of cast iron)?

I've listed just a few questions here. Sometimes it takes as much effort to go home as initial preparations for camp. Make a list of the tasks that must be accomplished and start making assignments two days before the end of camp.

A perfectly browned roux. I love this cast iron skillet. It's a 20-inch skillet that belongs to Daybreak Camp. I use it all week to brown ground beef, make gravy and saute vegetables.

But don't be alarmed. If you're like me, you'll piece together an extensive list. After all, kitchen work can be complex at time.

Here's a few tasks that must be tackled:

  • Final inventory--the chef must evaluate where to fine tune next year's order
  • Records--don't forget to pack the food production worksheet, food safety longs, etc.
  • Dispose of excess food--donate to a food bank, give it to staff, save for next year if possible
  • Clean all major equipment--refrigerators, range, convection ovens, serving line, dishmachine, etc.
  • Plan a leftover blow-out for the last meal--if it can be served safety, it's on the serving line Saturday morning !
  • Garbage and recyling--at Daybreak Camp, we always spend an hour on Saturday compacting the dumpsters because they're too full
  • Take care of personal belongings--don't forget to allot time so your staff can pack their bags
  • Meet with the facility manager--plan a walk-through with the facility manager when you're ready to turn the keys back

The 2004 kitchen crew at the Northern California FC Camp. The girl that I'm holding just happens to be an exact copy of my oldest daughter--in personality and looks!

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