Chef to the Stars

For Rommy’s Prompt at Real Toads – write a job description. I retired three years ago but find myself working again, for free.

Chef to the Stars
I used to be a chef but burned out.
I used to be an engineer but I retired.
Now I am a chef again
cooking for free in the kitchen
of our local Food Bank.
I cook for those I love:
My husband
My friends
The kids with one meal a day
The homeless with their belongings
in a black plastic garbage bag
The elderly, the almost forgotten.
I share my homegrown produce with them
I put together meals of whatever is on hand
I think of myself as Chef to the Stars.
These folks shine in the darkest
of their night.
Like the stars
they look at me and smile.
Potato soup and hamburger macaroni surprise.
The stuff of which dreams are made.

37 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. willow88switches
    May 10, 2018 @ 17:25:11

    These folks shine in the darkest
    of their night.

    ain’t this the truth – the hidden gems of the displaced, the dispossessed, and yet, they are the ones who offer the beauty of life … the gifts of which so many have forgotten, not just for the “this could be me” moment, but rather, to “see beyond a narrow window” – to help, to offer, and not count the cost, but reap the benefits … how wonderful? Indeed, chef to the stars …


    • kanzensakura
      May 10, 2018 @ 17:28:59

      Yes they are. I am often so amazed and impressed by their kindness and gentleness. It hurts so to see these hungry people lined up, not pushing or shoving, always saying thank you and giving me hugs. I am truly privileged to serve them.

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      • willow88switches
        May 10, 2018 @ 17:41:38

        really, it is truly something – some of the best, most generous, intelligent, graceful and gracious, as well as “classy” people I’ve been privileged to know, have been people like this – down on their “luck” as it were …. how can you not be moved? It’s astounding and very humbling.


        • kanzensakura
          May 10, 2018 @ 17:48:02

          I like this “job” much better than the one I had years ago as chef to the snobs in one of the restaurants where I worked. They are always so gratfeful. It makes me feel proud of the rest of the staff a nd how they give. We sort food and make up boxes to be distributed to families and the elderly, do Meals on Wheels, after school feeding programs. I am so rich with the love I am given in return.


          • willow88switches
            May 15, 2018 @ 15:20:53

            well that’s just it, sometimes the “dream jobs” are actually the hellish ones, and it’s only when chooses something else, that one sees how and where we find true job, pleasure and meaning in life.


  2. The Transcanada Poet
    May 10, 2018 @ 17:53:05

    I have also found the same thing … those down on their luck are stars in many ways…great poem with a an awesome theme


  3. Ron.
    May 10, 2018 @ 18:29:05

    Laudable work, effectively captured. My hat’s off.


  4. Rommy
    May 10, 2018 @ 18:29:55

    It’s wonderful that you have the opportunity to help out there Toni.


  5. Jo Aylard
    May 10, 2018 @ 20:01:48

    I like how you see beauty in pain. Wonderful writing!


  6. purplepeninportland
    May 10, 2018 @ 20:25:40

    I applaud you, Toni. Truly rewarding work.


  7. Vivian Zems
    May 10, 2018 @ 21:16:44

    I love the phrase, ..”Chef to the Stars’…such a worthy cause!


  8. Victoria C. Slotto
    May 11, 2018 @ 00:09:24

    Wonderfully touching. Bless you


  9. annell4
    May 11, 2018 @ 08:32:55

    Such a wonderful “calling.” With purpose, and to satisfy dreams….and hunger, for you and for those you serve.


  10. annell4
    May 11, 2018 @ 10:48:12

    I would like to read your profile? Have you always been interested in Japan and Japanese things? I would love to know more about the little girl who sits on her back steps and looks at the stars?


  11. Kerry
    May 11, 2018 @ 11:14:56

    This is more of a calling than a job description – such a generous and giving task.


    • kanzensakura
      May 11, 2018 @ 11:51:59

      Oh Kerry. They give to me so much more than I give to them. The staff at the food bank are also wonderful and giving. They are the true heroes. A job is just a job is just a job description. You are right. This is a calling. I could have been clever and funny. I could have written a wonderful tale of being a poet and the voice for the many. But I am 66 and long past the age of playing games. I retired three years ago and am totally happy. The prompt was job description. So I took it literally. I am after all a retired engineer.


  12. Jim
    May 11, 2018 @ 11:42:54

    Hi Toni ~~ I read this thinking, “there really are people like this who really do care.” Then when you added that this is really you I was superimpressed. This a much needed hand. FYI I helped at a Salvation Army dining room twice a month (fill in but fairly regular) until we moved away. The food was great and the guests needed the meals. My trio had a lot of me also, farmboy, military including manurse duty, Engineer like you (Aerospace Engineer at NASA Houston) , and then teaching until retirement.
    p.s. I feel some of the regular Food Bank guests see you often and are bonding a care giver / client friendship.



  13. qbit
    May 11, 2018 @ 12:34:46

    ” think of myself as Chef to the Stars.” — that is truly wonderful.


  14. Sherry Marr
    May 11, 2018 @ 13:29:18

    Oh, Toni, this one touches my heart, especially those folks who shine in the darkest of their night. Superb. And bless you for doing the work you do. Those meals feed spirits as well as bodies . They must give hope.


    • kanzensakura
      May 11, 2018 @ 13:53:37

      Oh Sherry, it is so amazing. Watching those kids eating, fixing meals for volunteers to take to the Meals on Wheels people, all of it is so wonderful. The other volunteers work a lot harder than I do. There are the people who serve the food, wash the dishes, dump the trash, fix the boxes of foodstuffs for the families….they are all such amazing people.

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  15. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    May 12, 2018 @ 09:53:41

    This is fantastic… and somehow I feel that you get a lot more by sharing… all those stars.


  16. Rall
    May 12, 2018 @ 12:42:36

    You should be cloned. We need lots of you 🙂 Good poem


    • kanzensakura
      May 12, 2018 @ 12:51:12

      Thank you. There are more out there than you think. I work with 100 of the best volunteers in town. These people do intake, unload and sort food, make up boxes of food based on needs, serve food, deliver food to the elderly and shut-in (Meals on Wheels), wash dishes, recycle and do trash duty, “get to know” people and families, assist with helping them navigate services in the area, hold their babies so they can eat…The list goes on and on. We always need more people, even a couple of hours a week does wonders. Maybe you?


  17. Frank J. Tassone
    May 12, 2018 @ 12:50:15

    An iconic write, Toni!


  18. coalblack
    May 13, 2018 @ 14:08:02

    Ah, leave all pretensions at the door! I like. Doing a thing for the joy of doing it is a particular joy, and is joy for those we do it for as well.

    I wonder….wouldn’t this work as simply a descriptive paragraph/ flash writing? I’m not sure it’s a poem. (I know, sorry to visit my pet peeve on you, dear friend.) In any event, I enjoyed getting to read this.


    • kanzensakura
      May 13, 2018 @ 14:30:16

      It would work perfectly as a haibun. I often write my haibun as poetry first and then go back and edit it. Haibun are always non-fiction contrary to people screwing around with the form and writing fiction (or as I call it, writing lies because this is non-fiction). I don’t do flash writing. My Pet peeve: people screwing with Japanese forms…It is a rough in the making. I have a friend who writes short screen plays and I to!d him it was not poetry. He asked me, what is poetry? It ain’t a frigging screen play I told him. Next time this will be reposted as a haibun, a Japanese poetry form. I will work on it. I truly dislike “cute” prompts and I am sure that came across. As an old retired engineer, I have a tendency to follow the rules . You want a job description? I’ll give you one. My supervisor whom I could not stand, would always ask us at our monthly meetings, what would be your ideal job? I would always answer, a Samurai in Edo Japan. For five years I answered that. I had enuff. One day I said, your supervisor and scooted my resignation, on an index card, across the table to her. I understand she stopped asking that after I left.


      • coalblack
        May 13, 2018 @ 14:45:20

        See, this reply is emblematic of why you have moved quickly up my list of favorite people. Your answer to the stupidvisor is classic. Both answers! The second one made me yowl with approval.

        The local wisdom here is, if you’re a young woman and want to meet men, enroll in the local engineering college. The ratio is something like 9-to-1. I say, if you’re a woman and want to *be an engineer*, enroll in the engineering college!


        • kanzensakura
          May 13, 2018 @ 14:59:08

          I never knew this! And to think I became an engineer to be an engineer because I love physics, science, and math and how at 66, I still have all the pieces to my erector sets I received at 10, 11, and 12. I was responsible for road striping across bridges. Not much? Remember that horrible bridge collapse a few years ago? Some idiot followed the directive to restripe the lanes across that bridge so traffic would move more quickly. Two months later…oh well. Thank you for liking me. Not many people do. My stupid visor
          wanted me to approve the license for an engineer who did not have the proper amount of experience but was a friend of hers. Nope. off with her head.


    • kanzensakura
      May 13, 2018 @ 14:42:28


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