Mary-Ann Kirkby on the Secrets of a Hutterite Kitchen


Image: Scott Akerman, Creative Commons


Mary-Ann Kirkby grew up on a Hutterite Colony in Manitoba, but her parents chose to leave the community with their seven children and start a new life in the outside world. Mary-Ann hid her Hutterite identity and worked hard to fit in. She eventually embraced her past and wrote about her experiences in the bestselling memoir I am Hutterite. Then she realized that no one was writing about Hutterite colonies today. She set out to do that, and spent two years traveling from colony to colony, working in kitchens and experiencing life through the lens of the community kitchen. Secrets of a Hutterite Kitchen chronicles this journey and Kirkby was on The Next Chapter to discuss the book and what she learned:

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Mary-Ann Kirkby on the efficiency of Hutterite kitchens:

"It's very structured and organized. The women are a force. It was almost like I went to a dance and I was the only one that was out of step. That's how smooth they go from one duty to another. They all know their place and there are so many of them and it's the swoosh of the skirts and the calling here and the calling there and suddenly, these beautiful smells are created. I think the way they are organized is second to none. You don't find that sort of organization anywhere. It's unbelievably efficient. They do an enormous amount of work. But the atmosphere that's created so you are talking about the colony up the road or who left the colony or who is having a baby and, before you know it, you've canned 100 jars of tomatoes. You are in a situation where it goes really, really fast. They do an enormous amount of work in a very short time."


Image: Aurélie, Creative Commons

Recipe from Secrets of a Hutterite Kitchen by Mary-Ann Kirkby. Copyright Mary-Ann Kirkby, 2014. Reprinted by permission of Penguin Canada Books Inc.

Mary-Ann's comments have been edited and condensed.