Salad Dressing and Job Carving

Salad Dressing is a pretty easy concept. Go to the store, buy a bottle and squeeze it on some lettuce. Enjoy! If you would like to cut out those pesky preservatives you may want to try making your own... which means there are a few more steps.

At COCO Cafe we do something called job carving. What does job carving mean? Well, every business has a purpose, a job to do. For a Cafe, the job is to provide products and services to the public, as a means of convenience. The job of providing products and services is cut into a whole bunch of smaller jobs. For us, some of those jobs are baking, chopping vegetables, measuring ingredients; taking, serving and running orders, and you guessed it, making salad dressings. Because our goal is to provide employment for people with developmental disabilities, we cut these small jobs, into even smaller jobs! Often these really, really small jobs are referred to as tasks. So essentially job carving is cutting each job into a number of smaller, often simpler tasks. Oh, and we use a lot of lists. Lists help us to stay organized, and make sure no task is missed. Task lists are sort of like a recipe for a job.

We have an extremely diverse staff at the Cafe. Each team has a lot of unique positions and members, but our team is pretty special. We are a team of all sorts of people, we are made up of short, tall, big and small. Our team is made up of people with visual and audio sensitivities and impairments, distinctive posture, and a wide range of abilities and literacies. Our staff has short attention spans, we have transient attentions, we hyper focus and we fixate. All of these things can make something like making a salad dressing extremely difficult! But, the best part about being an inclusive workplace is that we get to help one another to learn creative ways to accomplish a task. We're creative in our methods, and here is where we begin...

Let’s start with acid. In cooking an acid is something that is sour tasting, usually a citrus (e.g., lemon, lime, orange) or a vinegar (e.g., apple cider, balsamic, red wine). So we do one part acid. Then we do our sweeteners, seasonings, and emulsifiers. Sweeteners are things like sugars, honey, syrups, and nectars. Seasonings almost always start with salt and pepper, as well as various herbs and spices. Emulsifiers are these funny little molecules that like to have their head dipped in oil, and their tail drenched in a watery substance, so they can dissolve and hold things together. Emulsifiers stick the acid and the oil together. Common emulsifiers in salad dressings are mustard and egg yolk. Last but not least, we will use three parts of oil to bring it together. Some popular mildly flavoured oils we like are canola, avocado, and sunflower oils.

Okay now that we’ve gone over that, let’s recap:

1. Acid1:3 ratio.
2. Sweeteners, seasonings, and emulsifiers.
3. Oils, 3:1 ratio.

INGREDIENTS: the items used to make a product.

METHOD: the way we put ingredients together to make a product.

1. Gather all ingredients
2. Peel garlic
3. Drop peeled, raw garlic into a running, clean, dry blender.
4. Add the rest of your ingredients, hold the oil.
5. Blend until fully incorporated.
6. While the blender is still running, drizzle oil in slowly to emulsify.

This is a very versatile dressing and compliments mixed greens, topped with toasted nuts, and roasted Portobello mushrooms and a rich, full bodied red very well (we like Talon 2013 - Nk’mip!) Another great use for a dressing is as a marinade for chicken breasts. Throw some cubed chicken breast (thighs are fine, too!) in a container covered in this delicious dressing for about 20 minutes. Toss them on the grill and serve with roasted vegetables and potatoes for a simple and flavourful meal, pair this early season BBQ with a refreshing beer (Tofino Brewing Company’s Spruce Tree Ale for the adventurer or Nanaimo’s own White Sails - Yellow Point Ale if you like flavour, but would rather just look trees.)