RIDDLE: How do you learn french for free while making a difference at the same time in an atmosphere surrounded by delicious food?
ANSWER: by volunteering at non-profit farm to table restaurant Robin des Bois
My descent into this magical world where food and philatrophy began when i was in a little cafe doing research on where to find my next foodgasm. I happened to do a particular search for "farm to table" restaurants and Robin des Bois came up top of the list. Further research would reveal that there was something even tastier than just the food itself.
Robin des Bois combines food and philatrophy in a mouthwatering manner. Founded in 2006 it was the first of its kind in the world. The majority of the staff in both back room and front of the house are volunteers. 100% of all profits go to 4 different charities in the Montreal area helping with a range of things from providing free nutritious meals to needy, womens shelter, young homeless men etc. I knew in a heartbeat that i was meant to sign up. They have a lovely system where you can go online and sign up for whatever available shifts on the calendar.
***interestingly enough "Robin des Bois" means "Robin Hood" in english. This non profit restaurant was named after a heroic fictional figure that robbed the rich to feed the poor.
At my first shift in the back of the house of the restaurant, the staff couldn't have been more welcoming to someone who spoke little french and had never worked in a kitchen before. Whether i was slicing potatoes, peeling carrots, or weighing gorgeous chunks of poutine cheese (I'll admit some of those chunks ended up in my mouth), they always took time to make sure i felt comfortable in whatever task i was doing.
Working in the back kitchen also impacted me personally. I have always been empathetic to people in the service industry because i know they work hard. However the experience of being in the backroom doing prep watching the cook as well as doing the prep work myself deepened my level of empathy towards service industry people. As a result of this experience, the next time i go out to any place I'll want to tip more.
One morning as i was preparing to do a waitressing shift at the restaurant, i happened to check my phone and it had opened up notes of a sermon i had jotted down from my time in hillsong LA. Those words ran a sword thru the very core of my heart....
Do more than you are paid to do
Do more than you want to
Consume less than you desire to
Help more than you need to
Waste less time
God time more than you are used to
-Brian Houston (global senior pastor of hillsong)