This is the chef, and here are the rules.
So, I feel that I’m finally in a space where I can start writing about what is happening here. The first thing I have to say is that I am not a writer; I am a cook, or cuoca, as Italians would say. I ended up here at the Art Monastery Project for the summer of 2012 thanks to good networking, a few coincidences, and some excellent karma.
The second thing I have to say is that there is something driving me, forcing me to write about this experience. Blogging was an idea I had—or, rather, an idea other people had for me as I told them about the Project and what my role is in it.
“I’m going on sabbatical for the summer,” I would say casually, “just cooking for some artists living in the mountains of rural Italy.”
“Wow. You should blog about it.”
Again, I’m not a writer, so the whole idea was a bit more of a fantasy than it was a real mission for this summer. Being here with these people has changed all of that. At this point, there is a drive beyond myself to share this whole experience. Somehow, in some way, this project is in the most picturesque and inspiring place I have ever been, complete with a collection of talented, beautiful, and wonderful people, who create art and live in community with monastic and spiritual practices. Granted, we are just getting started, but you can just feel how hard everyone is working at what they are passionate about creating together. I can’t help it; I have to write about it.
All right. Let’s talk about the rules. We have three meals a day and we are working with 5 euros a day per person. I am currently feeding 12 people, but that number goes up or down a bit, depending on the day. This budget includes coffee and wine and covers breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I cook for only lunch and dinner five and a half days a week, but I buy food for all seven days. I also work with different dietary needs and lifestyles: vegan, pescetarian, flexitarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, and almond-free. I have created a meal plan accordingly.
The Art Monastery summer program, and the Project as a whole, has been going on for a couple of years now. This is the first time, though, that the long-term Artmonks (Molly, Betsy, Charles, and Liz) have brought on staff (rotating worktraders and an administrative assistant) and Artmonks-in-Residence for a full 90-day summer period of living and creating with them at the house. So, for the first time, it’s not a bunch of people coming in and out of their community; instead, it’s a group creating a community identity together. When I arrived here with the Artmonks-in-Residence at the end of May, everything was kind of on the table. We have people here from all over the world. I’m figuring out how to feed them along the way, and it’s a delicious process.