Stairway’s Kitchen Team: Transforming Raw Ingredients into Nutritious and Delectable Delights

At the break of dawn, while everyone sleeps, Stairway’s Kitchen Team, consisting of Ate Isa, Ate Ana, Ate LekLek, and Ate Lee Ann, prepare for a long day of cooking delicious and nutritious meals for over 100 people. Donned in marine blue Unless t-shirts, the kitchen doyennes begin wielding their magic, transforming raw organic materials harvested from Stairway’s organic farm and ingredients sourced from the local market into delectable delights.

Throughout the week, the Kitchen Team works tirelessly to ensure that everyone at Stairway has three meals a day, along with morning and afternoon snacks. Regardless of the size of the group visiting, the Kitchen Team never compromises on the food quality they serve.

Transition to plant-based meals

Over the years, we witnessed several deaths as a result of lifestyle and diet, with many Filipinos consuming more high-calorie, high-fat, and sugary foods than ever before. Lack of physical activity also contributes to the rise in obesity. In 2019, we abandoned meat and processed foods and transitioned to primarily plant-based meals, eggs, fish, and whole-grain rice varieties. We recognized the many health benefits associated with a plant-based diet and the benefits to the environment and embraced the transition wholeheartedly.

Trying new recipes

The Ates, who make up the kitchen team, are always excited to try out new meals. Today, for merienda, they are making turons, a crunchy Filipino dessert typically filled with banana or jackfruit. Instead, they decided to fill it with ube, a purple yam. The sweet aroma of the turons wafts through the air and reaches the stage where students from an international school and Stairway kids participate in the annual Youth for Change Camp. The young people begin shifting as the sweet smell engulfs the stage. Finally, the bell rings. It’s time for merienda. Everyone pours out from the stage and heads over to the dining area. The impatient youth gather around the kitchen, eagerly waiting to try the delicious turon delight.

Gratitude for the hard work

At the end of the Youth for Change Camps, the Ates comment there were no left-overs from the meals. They beam with pride as the students and teachers praise them for their exceptional cooking skills. Ask any participant how they enjoyed the food at Stairway, and without missing a beat, they say, “Masarap!” Tagalog for delicious. Another group leaves Stairway with cherished memories and recipes for dishes to share with their families in their respective countries. 

We are grateful for the Kitchen Team and their dedication and hard work; without them, we would not be able to continue the work that we all do—making a difference in the lives of children.