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Step Into Their Stories...

Feeding Mind, Body, and Soul; One Year on Chewonki's Kitchen Team

By Hannah Callary, Chewonki Cook

When I was offered a position at Chewonki as a seasonal cook last summer, I hesitated to accept. I’d just moved to Maine and didn’t know anyone else on staff (except my mother-in-law and 19-year veteran of the Chewonki facilities team, Carol James, who’d convinced me to apply). When I finally did accept, I didn’t have high expectations. I thought it was going to be just like any other job. I’d clock in, clock out, and count the days until the weekend.

So, I was surprised when, on my first day, I was welcomed by the kitchen team with open arms and big smiles. I felt like I was walking into a family reunion. My new colleagues made me feel genuinely included and respected and accommodated my needs as we worked together through the hot summer months. Four months flew by in the blink of an eye, then my seasonal position expired. Summer was over, and it was time to move on.

Hannah (back) with fellow cook Shane James preparing a meal in the Chewonki Kitchen.

Six months later, I was still thinking of the wonderful memories I’d made in the Chewonki kitchen, our team’s daily laughter, and how satisfied I’d felt knowing I was making a positive impact. I dreamed of returning and occasionally found myself browsing Chewonki’s employment page. Then, one day (as cheesy as it sounds), my dream was answered! Chewonki had posted for a full-time cook. I applied and was soon hired. 

Since joining the Chewonki staff, my outlook on going to work has completely changed. I’m guided daily by Chewonki’s mission and food philosophy, and I love being an active member of the tight-knit learning community. I’m encouraged to grow and challenge myself. Plus, I’m eating healthier than ever, and my physical and mental health has improved.

What I love most about my job, though, is the unforgettable dining experience. Seeing our whole community come together daily to enjoy a home-cooked meal that I helped plan and prepare is incredibly rewarding. Amazingly, nearly every community member contributes to this experience by helping on the farm, kitchen, and dish room. 

Working at Chewonki has taught me to expect more from my workplace and myself, too. I’m so glad to work in a kitchen where cooking is the joyous and meaningful experience it ought to be.

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