The Retreat Chef is in charge of the all-important food program at the Refuge at Knoll Farm, a seasonal retreat center in operation from mid-May to mid-October. Please see our Food page for more about our food philosophy: healthy delicious food is at the very heart of people’s experience of the farm, so this position is very creative, important and deeply appreciated.
Groups using the Refuge include professional groups, families, music camps, yoga studios and individuals on our leadership retreats. Most retreats are 2-8 days long and are typically around 20-30 people. On rare occasions we cook for more than 30 people.
Job responsibilities include:
- planning creative, mostly vegetarian menus that highlight seasonal produce in our local area
- sourcing food from local farms, farmer’s markets and food stores with the goal of having the majority of our food be locally grown
- preparing and presenting delicious meals and being willing to share how it is sourced and cooked with guests
- cooking in the outdoor pizza oven as a community experience
- catering to special diets, including gluten-free, paleo, vegan, and others
- managing volunteers in the kitchen
- keeping meals on time according to the schedule, and planning portions to be sure there is enough food for each group
- keeping detailed budgets and managing spending wisely
We seek candidates who have an approachable demeanor and openness to input from all levels of staff and the general public. Must be sensitive to issues of gender, racial, ethnic and cultural diversity and inclusion. We know that food does more than sustain life: it supports people emotionally, it represents heritage and culture and it has the power to bring people together across differences. We hope to find someone who shares these values, and who is able to respond to the diverse needs of our clientele.
Knoll Farm’s mission and core values of equity, fairness, inclusion and diversity are present in all that we do. Black, Indigenous and People of Color are encouraged to apply.
Schedule and Pay:
Days in a Retreat Kitchen can be long, typically beginning at 6 am with breakfast prep and ending with prepping for the next day after dinner is over. The chef is responsible for general cleanliness but other staff take care of the majority of dishwashing.
This job begins in mid-May with a staff orientation. The work schedule is arranged around the retreat calendar, which means that intense work periods are followed by blocks of days off. Days off are not regular, but you can expect to have an average of 2 days off each week. The calendar is usually set by April, although it can always change. It’s necessary to be flexible in this role.
Compensation of $180 per day includes a set number of pre- and post-season set-up and clean-up days. The position does not include health benefits, but housing can be included for no additional charge and consists of a private bedroom in the farmhouse, with shared bath.
We’ve had two responsibilities at Knoll Farm: to refine our skills at building soil and growing food for others, and to do the same around our commitment to social justice and reciprocity that we express through radical hospitality here at the farm and what grows from that into efforts all over this country. We call this Making Refuge, a life’s work that arises from our values and purpose. Making Refuge is our long-term commitment to a making a healthy homestead, sharing it openly with others to build relationships across difference, and then to nurture the work that blossoms elsewhere as a result.
Every year, we have brought cohorts of people doing important social and environmental change work together at Knoll Farm. For the first 12 years, we focused that intention through the organization we created called Center for Whole Communities, and the offering was focused on cultural change: in bringing together people who care for the earth with people who care for our communities, we hoped to close the gap in understanding between the two. That work helped to nurture a generation of leaders who could bring conservation and social justice together. We helped birth an innovative curriculum based on systems-thinking, inclusion, and working across difference.
Since those programs ended in 2015, and following the inflection point of the 2016 presidential election, we have sought to offer space and time for our alumni and their colleagues to remember and restore one's long work, and take time to pursue individual projects. Every summer, organizers and change-makers are given a week to remember, repair and restore themselves. We create refuge for them called the Better Selves Fellowships, which is about restoring and building people power. These weeks are completely free, and are designed primarily for people of color and their allies.