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DSC_2262Learning to Cook

Last night I attended a cooking class at  the Chef’s Gallery in Stillwater, Minnesota. And as classes go it was fun, entertaining, informative and useful.

The teacher and cook is Terry John Zila, and he makes it his business to bring joy and enjoyment to the kitchen and the food that comes out of it. He was full of banter and jokes. He also has a really biting sense of humor, when he chooses. Nevertheless,  he gladly answered questions about whatever he was working on, and he gave us complete menus and recipes. Then he added lots of helpful tips along the way.

The menu:
plate no. 1 – sesame cabbage slaw and grilled jumbo (and I mean JUMBO) shrimp w/chili dipping sauce
plate no. 2 – honey glazed baby back ribs and maple bacon baked beans
plate no. 3 – grilled onion marinated flank steak and warm potato salad (no mayo here!)
plate no. 4 – lemon, almond and candied ginger pound cake w/whipped cream and raspberries

I loved the evening. Every morsel of food was delicious. And it was a great way to unwind after two intensive days spent with the Learning Pastoral Imagination Project Advisory Board. I simply got caught up in the evening of conversation, entertainment and good food.

Later as I drove back to St. Paul, I was struck by the contrast between the teaching and learning in the demonstration kitchen, and the kinds of teaching and learning we had spent the day considering with our Advisory Board and other colleagues.

The demonstration in the cooking class gave us a lot:  first-hand observation;  notes and commentary to help us follow along; a teacher who was thorough and engaging. Yet. Yet, we did not get our actual hands on the food to prepare or cook it. We only ate the finished product.

If we had wanted to learn from Terry John in a more lasting and durable way, we would have needed to step alongside him and hear his directions and questions as we tried to put our hands to the task. It is just this kind of teaching in closer proximity to the final outcome itself that had occupied our attention earlier in the day. . .

Next time I’ll say more about the kind of teaching and learning that Patricia Benner writes about in her new book Educating Nurses: A Call for Radical Transformation.

Tonight marks six months of posting here twice each week. And our purpose is after all to think about ways we learn the practices of ministry and spiritual formation. Sometimes one of the best ways to do that is to compare one sort of learning with another, like cooking or nursing care. So tune in on Wednesday and we’ll keep talking about it. And please feel free to comment any time. Really.

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