Photos by Hannah Lauber & Madie Miller

The Holden Kitchen

Who We Are and What We Do

20190109_MinaTimIranianBirthdayDinner1_HannahLauber_400pxwide.jpgWe are a kitchen operated by both short- and long-term volunteers, serving anywhere between two weeks and two years. We come from all walks of life, and various professional backgrounds. Some of us love to cook, and have been doing so for decades. Some of us have experience cooking for large groups, while many have only cooked for themselves and their families. Some of us have never cooked before, but are hungry to learn. Some of us are on sabbatical from a lifelong career, or entering a new life post-career. Some of us are in transitional spaces and are here to reground and regroup as we discern where our lives are taking us next. Some of us come here for the wildness of the mountains and some for the comfort of the bread, and many for some combination of both. Some of us come with a sense of purpose, while many come with an unsure spirit. 

20180308_KitchenChanceLars_HannahLauber_400pxwide.jpgThis kitchen is a community that embraces all, recognizing that we are all both teachers and learners with gifts to give and gifts to receive. Regardless of who we are and where we come from, we are the Holden Kitchen. Embracing that diversity of individual personality, experience, and purpose, we seek to prepare and serve delicious and adventurous food prepared conscientiously. In this way, we practice hospitality towards all (guests, staff, each other, ourselves, the Earth). Along the way, we are invited to learn more about ourselves as individuals-within-community, and to challenge ourselves to grow in ways important for the health of this Valley and the entire world. And always at the center is the practice of “grace” and “love,” both for our fellow kitchen staff and for the people we serve.

What Grounds Us: Our Food Philosophy

The Holden Village Kitchen is shaped by the conviction that our shared meals contain sacramental elements. When we gather at a common table, we recognize that food is more than simply fuel, and that how we cook and how we eat is far more than mere mechanics and personal taste. The seemingly simple act of cooking and eating is far from simple – it is, rather, a complex process of choices and values that form and re-form our relationships with ourselves, with one another, with the earth, and with the sacred thread that runs through it all.

20180123_KitchenWorkersHappy_MadieMiller_copy400pxwide.jpgWe recognize that our food choices have significant consequences for those who gather the food, those who eat the food, and for the lands and seas that bring it forth. At the same time, the Holden Kitchen wishes to celebrate and to uphold the gift and blessing of God’s nourishment. The Holden Kitchen explores the tensions between hospitality and responsibility, two postures Western culture often casts as mutually exclusive. How can we give abundantly while also recognizing that our individual and shared resources are not inexhaustible? We do not believe that hospitality and responsibility are mutually exclusive. Rather, they are mutually informing parts of a just food philosophy, and we seek to integrate one to the other by way of intention, conversation, and education. In this way, the Holden Kitchen practices prophetic hospitality – a hospitality that recognizes that choices and tastes have consequences, and that ignorance of those consequences is both short-sighted and ultimately inhospitable to Creation at large.

We are committed to serving food that is care-ful, food that is both lavish and responsible. We strive to cook in ways that are healthy, celebrative, delicious, expressive, and that minimize harm to individuals and communities both near and far. We seek to cook and eat in ways that promote the health of the planet. Through these practices, we lean into our accountability to and love for the Sacred.

20180427_GrillingOutside4ShaneSigurdDennis_HannahLauber_copy_400pxwide.jpgHolden serves a diet that emphasizes whole grains and legumes, fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds, dairy, and supplemented with ethically sourced meat products. When possible, Holden supports local food producers and promotes local food systems. We seek out suppliers that support workers rather than corporations. We use leftovers creatively and strive to eliminate waste.

We hope that the weekly menu mirrors the lively conversations that occur throughout the Village. We welcome those who come to Holden, whether guest or staff, to be both challenged and refreshed. We hope that our shared meals are a significant part of that experience.

Our Local Partners

When possible, Holden supports our Central WA food economy by purchasing food from local producers. Information on these local partners is available below, and is also located on a bulletin board in the Dining Hall.


“...I think about the well-being of our planet while I’m making the food pickup run [for the chickens].  Sustainability.  Ecology. Turning trash into treasure. Call it what you will – the feeling is gratitude, stepping from the using up of nature to the generative creative cycle of nature – through the belly of a happy hen.” – Anne & Lars Clausen, Founders of Happy Hens


Located uplake from Holden Village, Karl’s organic garden is a small operation (1.5 acres of planting) that produces a variety of vegetables that make their way to our table. Karl also raises milk goats and honey bees. Stop by the next time you’re in Stehekin to meet the kids born this spring on the farm!



Since 1990, Café Mam (pronouced ‘mom’) has been committed to sourcing only Fair Trade, organic and shade-grown coffee from indigenous cooperatives. Café Mam coffee is grown by native Mayan farmers living in the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico. The growers are committed to egalitarian democratic ideals that emphasize hard work, responsibility to the cooperative, and high standards.



One of the founding members of Tilth Producers of Washington, John Brownfield helped pioneer organic tree fruit certification standards in the U.S. His orchard was one of the first farms to be certified organic in Washington in 1988. Today, John’s son, Mike, and daughter-in-law, Lynne Brownfield, produce organic apples, pears, and stone fruit for direct market sale.



Members of The Shepherd’s Grain, a sustainable wheat cooperative in the Pacific Northwest, John & Sharon Aeschliman produce wheat using sustainable growing practices. Shepherd’s Grain wheat flour is used in our famous Holden Bread.


Located near Havillah in the Okanogan Highlands, Oberg Brothers have been raising Hereford and Hereford/Angus cattle for over sixty years. Each of their cows and calves are born and raised on the ranch, grass-fed, and free of antibiotics and hormones.


Equal Exchange started with an idea: what if food could be traded in a way that is honest and fair, a way that empowers both farmers and consumers? Their founders - Rink Dickinson, Jonathan Rosenthal and Michael Rozyne - asked this question as they envisioned a trade model that values each part of the supply chain. So in 1986 they took a big risk and plunged full-force into changing a broken food system. Equal Exchange’s mission is to build long-term trade partnerships that are economically just and environmentally sound, to foster mutually beneficial relationships between farmers and consumers and to demonstrate the contribution of worker co-operatives and Fair Trade to a more equitable, democratic and sustainable world.


“13 Fox Farm is part of a property called Tatley Outpost, a ranch and farm on 1,600 acres in Pateros, WA. 13 Fox Farm is one of two individual farms on the property. Both farms are run by veterans and are geared toward veterans’ unique interests in what they would like to farm. At 13 Fox Farm, produce is grown hydroponically, because hydroponics are known to use less water and the water that is used can easily be recycled. We grow plants in towers, in water tables, and in large grow buckets. This also enables us to grow many things year round. Our goal is to employ at least 10 veterans and support them in building their own farms and helping them heal through working the land and being in community on the property. We also offer programs to assist veterans with their farms, including training programs, nature driven healing programs, outdoor adventures, and a housing community. We hope to continue this work and grow the community we already have started.” – Tim and Amy Andrews, Owners



Established in 2018 by owners Krysta and Gary Westmoreland, the Chelan Meat Shop provides locally sourced meats.


Bluebird Grain Farms provides 100% certified organic ancient grains, fresh-milled flour and whole-grain handcrafted blends. Their products are sown, grown, harvested, and sun cured with care and milled to order on their farm in the Methow Valley in northern Washington, working with the goal of leaving the land healthier for the next generation.


What to Expect


Our valley is remote, and our community is intimate. Because we spend so much time in such close quarters, germs can be easily spread unless precautions are taken by all members of the community. With this in mind, we require that all Villagers wash their hands at the designated hand-washing sinks (at the east end of the Dining Hall) upon entering the Dining Hall. We also ask that all Villagers use new plates and/or bowls with each trip to the buffet, island, and cereal dispensers.

Additionally, our little ones may not be ready or able to give this level of attention. We ask that children ages 12 and under be served by a responsible adult at the buffet line and at the island.

Thank you for doing your part to help curb the spread of germs in our Dining Hall, and for supporting a healthy and happy Village.


All meals at Holden are served buffet-style in the Dining Hall, and are available during scheduled meal times. In the summer time, two buffet lines are available on either end of the Dining Hall. During the fall/winter/spring months, one buffet line is available on the east end of the Dining Hall.

Holden offers one menu for each mealtime. Meals typically consist of a few warm dishes (entrée and sides), some cold prepared dishes, and a salad bar (and/or a topping bar, depending on the meal). Read the label (located on the glass sneeze-guard above each dish or the small plate in front of the dish) for the name of each dish and for any allergens present.


Hungry or thirsty outside of scheduled meal times? The Dining Hall offers a diverse array of snacks and beverages available 24/7. Check out the northeast wall of the Dining Hall for a selection of milks, juices, hard-boiled eggs, cereals, and a smorgasbord of loose-leaf teas. Hot water, hot chocolate, and hot coffee are available on the east end of the Dining Hall. The Dining Hall’s center island is home to our homemade bread(s), our beloved toaster, a variety of jams and homemade nut butters, oils and spices, honey, and a variety of local whole fruits.


If you have a dietary restriction, please contact the Food Services Lead before you arrive in the Village. Doing so ensures that the kitchen is prepared to serve you. When needed, the kitchen prepares separate dishes for those with allergies or other food sensitivities. If a main dish on the buffet line lists an allergen you cannot eat, please check in with the kitchen staff at the Silver Counter for an alternative dish.

Please note that the Holden Village kitchen is NOT a peanut-free or allergen-free kitchen. We have certain processes in place to minimize the likelihood of cross-contamination, but we cannot guarantee that cross-contamination won’t take place. If you have a severe food allergy, please contact the Food Services Lead and the Medic for more information.

In order to minimize our food waste, the kitchen tries to produce only enough food to feed everyone during the scheduled mealtime. For that reason, it is important that we know about your dietary restriction before your arrival so we can ensure quick and delicious service. 


There is a refrigerator available for guest usage in the west foyer of the Dining Hall. Please label all contents with your last name and your departure date. Any items lacking the correct label may be disposed of by kitchen staff at any time. At the end of your stay, please dispose of any leftover food items in the Guest Fridge before departure. Note that leftover personal food items CANNOT be left on the Dining Hall island for consumption by others, as per WA State Health Code.


This valley is not ours; we do not own it. Thus, all waste we produce must be sorted and processed onsite. The kitchen attempts to minimize its waste by preparing only enough food appropriate for the population of the Village. Any extra food not served is repurposed and reutilized in other dishes, or served as-is during our weekly “week in review lunch.

We ask that diners be mindful of their waste, and serve themselves only what they will eat. Remember – you can always get more food from the buffet, but you cannot return food you do not finish. Once food is plated by a diner, the kitchen cannot reutilize it (per WA State Health Code). 

All Villagers (guests and staff alike) are expected to scrape their plates and bowls of leftover food and oil at the compost station in the west end of the Dining Hall before depositing their dishes for washing. Doing so protects the Village’s delicate drain field from harm brought on by excessive oil and food waste, and our compost is reused around the Village to help our lawns and gardens grow. Parents, please scrape for your children or help them thoroughly scrape for themselves.

Other waste products, such as food packaging, must be sorted into the appropriate bins. All Villagers are expected to sort their own waste into the appropriate bins in Garbo Central (located in the first floor of the Hotel). All landfill and recyclable waste is stored in-Village and shipped downlake a few times each year. This process is both labor-intensive and expensive, and we ask that all Villagers keep this in mind when you bring packaging into the Village. If able, please consider packing-out some of your waste. If you are interested in delivering some of the Village’s recycling to a recycling center downlake (THANK YOU!), you can check in with the Village Garbologist for more information.