No Gordon Ramsay—Just dedicated volunteers, spirit, and lots and lots of chicken at the Orion Center’s Kitchen Challenge

You’ve probably walked, ridden or driven past it before. It’s a bright green building right at the intersection of Yale, Denny and Stewart in downtown Seattle. It’s called The James W. Ray Orion Center (part of the local organization YouthCare), and I’m happy to say that I helped cook dinner there last night.

The key word here is “helped.” I chopped, sliced and cooked along with 10 other volunteers, and apparently we were one of the biggest dinner-hour groups to come along in a while. I know what you’re thinking—too many cooks in the kitchen, right? Well, actually no. In this case, our many hands made light work.

At work in the kitchen.

At work in the kitchen.

When I arrived, I joined my fellow TWIFers in the kitchen and we assessed the situation. Or, at least, our fearless leader, T’Yanna did. As a professional caterer and pastry chef, she helped keep us focused on our culinary goal. Gordon Ramsay was nowhere to be seen, which I was thankful for (although I’m sure he’s a nice person). Tasks were assigned: some folks chopped onions, others diced carrots and potatoes, and the lucky ones got to clean chicken! And boy, was there a lot of it.

Working the grill…

Working the grill…

There was garlic bread, peach cobbler and a bevy of beverages as well. When it came time for the Center’s youth to eat, I stuck to chicken duty and ladled out the portions: one piece per person at first, then come back for seconds!

After dinner and clean up, an Orion center staffer lead a tour of the facility. Services include locker space where youth can store their valuables, a sleeping space, high school classes, an art room (containing some truly stand-out work) and a barista training program. YouthCare is an amazing organization, and they’re currently accepting donations of all kinds, especially winter gear such as sleeping bags, warm coats and gloves.

All things considered, it was a fun and rewarding experience, and I hope to help with dinner again soon—maybe next time as an onion-chopper.

-Maggie Tarnawa is an Events Blogger for The World is Fun