The Sophia Way Cooking Club

Food is the gift of life and we couldn’t be more grateful to our large community of meal donors who make home-cooked lunches and dinners for nearly a hundred women at our shelters.

On February 25, we had our first meeting of The Sophia Way Cooking Club to celebrate and appreciate what they do to nourish women. It was wonderful to put names to faces and see people make connections as Deb Knaus and Maya Subramanian spoke about why they provide meals.

And, our amazing guest speaker, Chef Laura Taylor gave some great tips on how to cook for large groups.

  • Start by cooking in a clean environment
  • Plan ahead and make lists to stay organized
  • Keep dietary restrictions in mind and focus on nutrition
  • Use your slow cooker(s)
  • Buy ingredients and supplies in bulk at wholesale clubs and food service store

She has also written a blog for us sharing comfort food recipes that will scale up well for serving a large group of guests. Happy Cooking!

Laura Taylor is a Certified Personal Chef and started her own business Honest to Goodness in 2012.

Honest to Goodness is a team of cooking professionals that serves busy people who don’t have time to cook for themselves or their families. They offer a range of personalized solutions including custom menu planning, grocery shopping, in-home cooking, dinner parties. Laura’s training in sales and marketing, combined with her passions for cooking and food service, has successfully established her company as a major player in personal chef services in Seattle. Honest to Goodness has served the Seattle Seahawks, international business leaders, and created custom event experiences. Chef Laura has also been nominated as 2015 & 2017 Personal Chef of the Year by the United States Personal Chef Association.

Chef Laura Taylor shares some tips for bulk cooking

“Thank you, I appreciate the invitation to be here. I think what everyone is doing here is beyond amazing.”

We know there is so much need in our community to serve men, women, and children in all sorts of situation and food is how we have chosen to show our love. When we cook for our family and friends, we put our heart into it. We provide a nourishing meal to show how much we care for people.

I started Honest to Goodness nine years ago to provide solutions for busy professionals and people who don’t have time to cook for themselves. We have eight chefs that provide food to keep them happy and healthy. Our vision is to do good and make a positive difference for people, not only the clients that hire us but also in our community as well. We have signed up to provide a meal at the shelter in April and I am excited about our team can get together for that event.

  • Be organized – have a plan in place; have a menu and make lists; work out the time it takes to cook the dishes
  • Clean environment – before you begin, wipe down and sanitize all surfaces in the kitchen. Wear gloves when handling raw meat, poultry, and seafood. Clean as you go
  • Bulk purchase – Costco is great for that. Another option is Smart Food Service (formerly Cash N Carry). They have outlets in Seattle SODO, Ballard, Northgate and Bellevue/Overlake. You get good deals on bulk foods, ingredients, dried herbs and spices, frozen meats and vegetables. Another option is Restaurant Depot. If you have a food service license or a restaurant license you can apply to be a member and shop there
  • Get disposable-lidded foil pans – great for transporting food and heating

Menu planning

  • Think of simple but flavorful dishes that appeal to all. Don’t over salt or over sugar dishes – you need salt and sugar to balance out flavors but there are many herbs, spices, and stocks you can use to build up flavors
  • Keep dietary restrictions in mind, especially when cooking for vulnerable community. Also, think about gluten free and dairy free dishes, and vegetarian meals as many are now adopting a meat-free diet
  • Look at build-your-own-meal as an option where women can create their meal with what works best for them
  • At Honest to Goodness, we are big on nutrition and focus on nutrient-rich foods. Have a colorful meal that are rich in anti-oxidants – greens, red sauces, roasted vegetables, etc.
  • Cook to the seasons – in these colder months, look at hearty stick-to-your-ribs kind of stews, casseroles, chicken potpies – dishes that are flavorful and creamy. In the summer time, look at a light and refreshing meals – taco bar or a build-your-own entree salad
  • Remember carbs (pasta and rice) are more easily digested than protein or fiber. So add proteins and fiber to your meals. It also helps balance out the sugar if people are diabetic
  • Heart healthy cooking oils – for high heat cooking I use avocado, grapeseed or coconut oil. For sautéing, I usually use olive oil,
  • I’m a huge fan of taking shortcuts as long as it does not sacrifice quality and nutritional value. For instance, I will buy Marinara sauce and add flavoring. I also use frozen or precut vegetables or vegetable blends that you can get at grocery stores
  • Use appliances that do all the work. Make it as easy on yourself as possible. Use ovens, slow cookers instant pots, rice cookers
  • Double check your recipe ratios and ensure you have enough of everything. Read your recipe twic

Catering tools

  • Thermos-pens to ensure everything is cooked to the proper internal temperature
  • Cathay Pacific Catering sells  catering crates – cardboard boxes with Styrofoam inserts that help transport food in safe temperature way, cleanly and safely. They are available in full size sheet pans

A common culinary term is mise-en-place, which means everything in its place. It’s more than about being organized for chefs it’s a mindset, is how we life our life. Get everything ready before you start assembling –it makes it simpler quicker easier.


Voices Shared

Our meal donors are like our be-all and end-all and we are so grateful for the support we receive day after day! We are rarely without food, so thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
– Alisa Chatinsky, The Sophia Way

People facing homelessness can often feel invisible, and interacting with them (when we could) and seeing them enjoy their meals fills our heart with joy. We believe that in uplifting others, we all rise.
Deb Knaus, Assistance League of the Eastside

The ladies are very grateful. Every time the meals come in they smile at how beautiful the food looks and give their gratitude for the delicious food.
– LaRosia Lewis, The Sophia Way

The pandemic really brought home for The Sophia Way the value of the meals you donate and the hard work you put it to cook meals. Families, book clubs, churches, temples, groups are doing this every day, cooking for more than 40 women very day. Your donation of meals allow us to use the funds to support women in other ways. We are grateful beyond words.
Maya Subramanian, The Sophia Way

We have so many amazing groups and communities of faith that help us with our meals. It’s a big ask and we definitely want to acknowledge that and we want to extend our heartfelt thank you for everything that you are contributing to our community. Thank you so much for joining us. We are looking for more ways that we can connect with one another. We are grateful and touched by the time and effort that it takes to prepare these meas for the women we serve. It’s been wonderful to connect with you over this last year and we are looking forward to connecting with you more often.
– Megan Duncan, The Sophia Way