Untested Cooking Scheme
01 Dec 2004
Back in the days before I had an ayi to cook for me, I taught spoken English classes at ZUCC in Hangzhou. I had a pretty nice apartment there with a full kitchen. I could have easily hired a cook there too, but never did. I rarely cooked myself, besides boiling frozen dumplings in instant soup and then dousing them with sweet and spicy sauce. Most of my meals were spent with my awesome co-workers at ZUCC.
Still, in my last semester at ZUCC I hatched a plan. It was cunning. It was brilliant. It was never put into effect. But maybe there’s still hope for some enterprising teachers in China if I share it in my blog.
OK, let me lay it out for you.
- When I was there, the teachers at ZUCC liked home-cooked meals, but they were lazy. For some reason they were also unwilling to hire a cook.
- The students ate in the cafeteria day after day. They longed for home-cooked food, but had no cooking facilities. Some of them were even great cooks, but had no way to share their gift.
Do you see where I’m going with this? You may think you do, but it gets better.
The process goes like this:
- Announce to each class that you’re holding a cooking competition in your own home. Students who wish to enter should enter in teams of 2 or 3. Have them sign up and include what evenings they’re free. Share with them your judging criteria and tell them what cooking facilities/supplies you have. Tell them they will be cooking enough food for 4-5 people.
- Create a schedule for the teams. There are several ways you can do it. If you have a lot of classes, you might want to assign a whole week (Monday through Friday) to each class. Each night of that week one team would come to your place and then cook and eat with you. Alternatively, you could assign a day of the week to each class, and a different team could come every week.
- Tell the students they have a 20rmb budget for the dinner (which is plenty). They know what they’re going to make, so they need to buy the ingredients and then show up at your place to prepare it. Unless you’re a jerk, you should reimburse the students the 20rmb. You might have to fight to make them take it, but you really should. If they spent less than 20rmb, they’ll give you the change. I really doubt any students would try to “make money” by making a super cheap meal.
- Stay out of the way while your students prepare the meal. Two or three people is plenty to get the job done. When the meal is done, take pictures of it with your digital camera.
- Around this time, the “guest judge” of the evening arrives. That’s your friend. (If you want, you can even charge him 10rmb for the meal or make him help with the dishes.)
- After the meal chat with the students for a while and then secretly write down your judgments.
- Your students will probably try to wash your dishes for you (but not in every case). Handle that how you see fit.
- Put the pictures online with a description. You might want to include the judges’ scores. That’s your call.
I think originally I had it all worked out to the point where I could even make money on the scheme, and everyone was happy. Perhaps it’s better that it never went into effect, though. It had all the makings of a scandal.
Sooo… who’s gonna try it?? (Let me know.)