First, a bit of background: I’m very new to Beautiful Day, joining the organization in late March after many (many) years in the for-profit world. Within my first few days with Beautiful Day, I had the opportunity to spend a shift in the kitchen, working with the trainees as they made our granola. I had no idea what to expect, but looked forward to the opportunity. I thought I’d take this opportunity to tell you about that night.
I arrived at the kitchen, a few minutes after the trainees started their work. Hair-netted and gloved, I wandered around to a few different stations (trying not to slow things down too much). Initially, my focus was on the process of making the granola. The staff and some of the trainees seemed expert in how they moved. Iman manned the massive kettle, folding all the ingredients together with an oar-like spatula. The mixed granola was carefully weighed, and a handful of the trainees started to spread it onto pans in bar-sized grids.
As the shift unfolded, I couldn’t help but notice how these people worked together. The group of 6 people, brought together into this one kitchen from troubled locations throughout the world, had become a team despite language barriers that would stymie most people. The more experienced team members provided tips that involved lots of hand gestures and numerous short quips (“See? Faster.”). Newer trainees picked those up very quickly. (Sadly, I did not.) Despite many trainees not speaking the same language as others, they were communicating quite well.
And then, one last thing hit me. And it’s one of the more striking things that I took away from my night in the kitchen -- the attitude and nature of the group. Despite all the work being very hands-on (terms like “artisan” and “small batch” seem synonymous with “time-consuming” and “hard work”), everyone had smiles on for most of the night. There was good-natured ribbing as Furaha packaged the bars, impromptu races among a few trainees to box and stack the granola bars (followed by victorious cries of “First! A1!"), and a few giggles at how bad I was doing with just about anything I tried.
If you ever get the chance to spend a bit of time watching our staff and trainees work in the kitchen, I think you’d agree with my take on it: this is a diverse group of people who’ve been tossed into this situation because of a variety of horrifying or tragic events in their homeland; they’re working in a foreign, labor-intensive environment with communications issues that would totally shut-down most organizations; and yet they seem to work well together, enjoy the opportunity to work together, and take pride in the granola they’ve made.
It’s not what I expected to learn about in the Beautiful Day kitchen. It was so much more.