Whenever members of Butterfield A’s cooking co-op feel the urge to whip together chicken piccata or an apple pie they can head down to their dorm’s kitchen, which is stocked with pots, pans, flour, sugar, and many other cooking utensils and ingredients.
The Butt A cooking co-op was started earlier this year by a group of 10 freshman residents of Butt A and the Nics who were surprised that the kitchens were not already stocked with cooking utensils. They each pitched in 10 dollars to remedy the absence. The $100 went toward purchasing cooking utensils that would reside in the Butt A kitchen for the communal use of co-op members and their friends. This kitchen is more spacious and better furnished than many dorm kitchens, as it was renovated over the summer of 2012.
“Once the dishes appeared, more people wanted it,” said founding member Simon Korn ’17. “People smelled the food, came into the kitchen, and asked us about it. We told them it was part of the co-op.”
Since the founding of the co-op, approximately five more students—freshmen and sophomores—have joined through word-of-mouth.
“You really need at least $100 worth of utensils to cook as much of and as many kinds of food as you want to, and you wouldn’t get all that yourself,” Korn said. “I wouldn’t use the kitchen without the co-op.”
Often, one or two members use the co-op dishes to make food with their non-member friends. Other times, co-op members will get together and each make small dishes that they share to form meals.
“The co-op’s informal, but it’s great,” said Kiley Rossetter ’17, a founding member who has baked everything from pumpkin bread to pineapple upside-down cake using the co-op’s dishes. “It’s an excuse to cook delicious food and desserts and share them with others. It’s more fun that way. I’ve made new friends through it, because they smell pie and come in to ask what it is.”
Anna Flurry ’17 said that one of the things she misses most from home while at college is cooking.
“It’s good to have hot meals and know where some of my food came from and that some stranger didn’t make it,” she said.
She also explained that utensils and ingredients are expensive, and the co-op offsets some of the costs.
Like Flurry, Mizael Robledo ’17 joined the co-op because it allowed him to save money on ingredient costs and because he wanted to cook. Why pay dues?
“People in the co-op all like good food,” he said.
However, a few issues have come to light since the formation of the co-op due to the fact that it is a communal group functioning in a public, shared space. The organization has found that some non-members have used the co-ops dishes, not washed them, and left them littered around the kitchen, which Rossetter finds very frustrating.
Another problem the co-op has encountered is the theft of cooking utensils from unlocked kitchen cabinets.
The co-op would like to get its own allocated cabinets that can be locked and only accessed by members. Most of the cabinets in the kitchen are empty, suggesting that there is little demand for cabinet space by other tenants.
Korn spoke with Butterfield Area Coordinator (AC) Liliana Carrasquillo, who was not in favor of locking cabinets for the co-op’s utensils.
“From the point of view of the AC, she can’t give away the cabinets willy-nilly,” Korn said. “On principle, it makes sense, because we can’t close them off from some people just because we have the co-op.”
The co-op’s next step is to make a list of reminders, which will be posted in the Butt A kitchen.
“They will be reminders—not rules—because someone could get mad, because we have no authority over other tenants of Butt A,” Korn said.
The co-op is currently circulating an email chain among members to get suggestions. Once they compiles the list of rules, they will contact the AC to potentially grant permission to implement the rules and to revisit the dedicated locked cabinet idea.
“In addition to the AC, we’ve also talked to RAs, and they’re really into it,” Rossetter said. “They love that we’re doing it.”
After having a generally positive experience starting the Butt A cooking co-op, Korn ants to strongly urge other students to start similar co-ops in their dormitories.
“Don’t give up in the beginning,” he said. “Don’t wait until enough people have signed up to get the utensils you need, because it’s really the results that bring people in.”
Although many of the co-op members will not live in Butt A next semester, they hope to keep the organization alive by leaving the dishes and rules for the next generation of freshmen.