I was excited when I got an email from a staff member at Racquet Up Detroit. A non-profit organization located in Northwest Detroit that helps teenagers to be successful through support with academics, mentoring and a little squash; the squash that has a ball and a racquet, I mean. I do love a good food pun ;)
I planned what I hoped would be a fun event for this group of a dozen high school students. We were using a space that didn't include a full kitchen (us many of my groups do) so we were limited to some appetizers and desserts. The teens had a great time working together in small groups to complete a recipe for the larger group. Many were tasting foods they had never tried before. Many were stepping outside of their comfort zone "cooking" because this was new to them. They did great! They communicated, they problem solved to complete their dishes and the best part was they were having a good time doing it all.
The highlight of the program, for me, was when I asked the group about some of the challenges they faced when completing their dishes in a small group. One of the girls was telling me how she was working with a friend who just jumped right in; no plan- just DID. This was not her style. She is more of a perfectionist and her friend's method made her stress about the activity. Then she said, she realized, she didn't want to yell at her so instead she had to tell herself it was okay, that this would work out and she would adjust.
I was blown away! I asked the young lady if she knew what "self awareness" was, she said, no. I went on to explain to her that in that moment what she did was take a moment to check in and her own feelings, think about them, and choose how to handle herself. She was mindful of how she was feeling and she made a conscious choice about what to do next. I was so impressed and proud. I tried explaining to the group how this is what cooking can provide; the opportunity to be mindful, aware and learn how to make good choices for yourself and those around you.
A Culinary Art Therapy session that was truly a success! And of course, always delicious!