When I arrive at the Davis Food Coop teaching kitchen to meet up with Julie Loke (known as “Jules” in the Coop), she is doing what she does best; being of service. Today it’s helping a young lady learn about kitchen safety through a training program for teens offered at the Coop called C.H.O.W. (Co-op Hands-on Work Training) This is just one of many hats Jules wears as the Cooking Class Teaching Assistant at the Coop.
It is very clear from chatting with Jules for even just a few minutes that she has a real passion for supporting healthy eating for Davis residents. “Organic. Local. Seasonal” are the words she uses to define her values around food, cooking, and teaching. Here at the Coop Jules helps run the cooking class schedule and teaches a number of classes herself. She’s also involved with Carrots in the Classroom –a free service to local schools that includes a visit from a Coop staff and ad fun lesson in eating local, sustainable foods. She lights up when sharing about her experiences helping Davis residents learn about local, seasonal eating and how easy it can be do at home.
Jules has been in the food industry for her entire career. Her experience working at Full Circle Farm ( a Yolo County Organic farm) and other farms, cooking at various restaurants, and attending culinary school have given here the skill and the perspective on how important local, seasonal, organic eating truly is. She recounts what she learned while living on the farm about the change in diet based on what was growing seasonally. Jules tries to convey this message to her students and to the Coop members in general. I’ve have the privilege of learning from Jules while I worked at the Coop and here gentle but enthusiastic approach to highlighting local, seasonal offerings would make anybody a follower.
Today Jules gets her inspiration from food blogs and is turning to cookbooks for ideas in ways that she hasn’t done in the past. Even Martha Stewart has a place in her repetiore these days. Soups are one of her favorite dishes to make, but she is game to cook just about anything from cookies to gourmet meals. More and more, she’s being asked to write down recipes from her classes for students, which is a challenge to a gal who learned how to cook in a more ‘off the cuff’ way, blending flavors and ingredients amongst what was on hand. Jules believes in a balanced diet, and advocates for people to learn what foods and combinations work best for them. She’s dabbled in it all: macrobiotic, vegan, vegetarian, and even French bistro cooking. Each experience and approach to food have helped her form a very eclectic, creative approach to healthy eating that includes lots of fun produce, mostly vegetarian foods and healthy meats in moderation.
Jules smiles and takes as big whiff of some fresh basil just picked from a local farm. There is a sense of pride in her smile; she cares about the farmers, the food, and the patrons of the coop. This isn’t simply food – it’s away of life, a way to connect people.
If you want to get a taste of what Jules offers, check out the cooking classes at the Davis Food Coop, located on G street, or visit her at the Wednesday Farmer’s market where she spreads the word about Coop offerings, and gives people a sample of local flavor. Jules is always ready to help answer questions, direct people to interesting products, and advocate for the many local brands sold at the Coop. For more information about Coop Cooking Classes, stop in to grab a schedule or click here.