Staff Features
May 19, 2023

Chef Helen on cooking at Clubhouse


How would you describe your cooking? Where do your recipes come from?

I cook like a mom or a grandma. Not the gourmet fancy stuff, just good home cooking. I’ve learned tons from the other people I’ve worked with. Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, and Mennos. They taught me so much stuff. And my mom. I’ve liked cooking since I was a little kid.

Just curious, why soup every day?

I dunno. Because it’s good for you!

How did you become a cook?

When my daughter was born in ‘93, I entered a program called Women in Trades in Penticton, BC. I did electrical, brick work, carpentry, and roofing. We built this little playhouse and we auctioned it off and the only thing we didn’t do was cooking. But we went to a dinner at the end of our program and that’s when I got my inspiration to cook.

Life has a way of being indirect, doesn’t it?

Yea, and I could cook. So I just did it!

Is the Clubhouse kitchen unique to places you’ve cooked before?

Pretty similar.

I really want to get some members trained. So they can get out into the big bad world and get themselves a job.

What’s it like to cook with members? Is it a new experience?

Yes. But I’ve trained other people, so it’s not that new. But it’s a little more in-depth. A little more explanation required. People think working in a kitchen is easy, but if it was easy everyone would do it.

Chef Helen slices tomatoes in our pre-renovation kitchen. Photo: Staff Matt

So you just make it look easy.

It’s my thing. I can really do anything else (laughs).

With the kitchen renovation happening right now, what’s on your mind?

I’m looking forward to a nice new kitchen. This is pretty oldschool right now, and it’ll be way easier with new equipment. And we’ll get to design the layout ourselves.

You’ve been here for 6 months. What’s stood out to you?

The members. They’re wonderful. They’re all wonderful. I didn’t have any preconceived notions, but I didn’t know what it was going to be like here. But it’s awesome—it’s like a family. They come in the kitchen, they hand me an apron, we get to work. It’s just like a family.

What dreams do you have for Clubhouse?

I really want to get some members trained. So they can get out into the big bad world and get themselves a job. I see some potential. Some people have it, some people don’t. And that’s ok. I’d also like to see the space become more vibrant. More stuff for members to do. To keep them entertained and engaged. There are so many different personalities here, right? We need to do more. More stuff.

Thank you for interviewing me!

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