With Sue Butler, it's always mystery box soup. She got the name from reality cooking shows like Master Chef, where contestants are faced with the challenge of creating a culinary masterpiece using only the unknown contents of a box provided for them. "That's what it is like cooking here. That's what makes it so much fun!"

Every Wednesday, Sue arrives at Wayside with only a vague idea of what kind of soup she will make 10 gallons of that day. This is because, like the majority of the food that is prepared for our thirteen weekly community meals, Sue is making soup comprised of ingredients from our Food Rescue donations. "I never know what kind of produce donations you are going to get from Hannaford. That's where all the fun is. It just starts with a basic idea." Sometimes she carries over inspirations from her part time job as a professional cook at Stones Café & Bakery in North Yarmouth where, you guessed it, she makes soup.

Sue has worked in kitchens in a professional capacity on and off again for practically her entire adult life. She was introduced to creating in the kitchen at a young age. Sue has early memories of baking with her mother. Mixing flour, sugar and eggs together to make something delicious and climbing onto the counter to help cut sugar cookies. However, she has never quite had a taste for baking and the need for exact measurements feels restricting to her. This is one of the things that draws Sue toward soup. It's what she calls "intuitive cooking." Creating food that she can play around with where ingredients are "measured by the handful". When asked if she had any recipes to share, she just looks up and taps her temple, "it's all in here."

Ninth grade was when Sue's love for soup started. She was living with her family in Georgia. Her Home Economics teacher brought in two grocery bags full of vegetables, including things like okra which she had never heard of.  They made soup, which was something that she had never seen made from scratch before. She liked vegetables but had never experienced them like this. She was hooked!

Sue ended up in our kitchen through Garbage to Garden, the composting service that lets customers volunteer at local organizations in lieu of paying a monthly fee. Volunteering with Garbage to Garden gave Sue the chance to work at a handful of non-profits new to her. She did a few stints in Wayside's warehouse but when she got a tour of our facility from Operations Manager Don Morrison, and she saw the kitchen she said to herself "I have to get in there". Sue enjoys that she gets to use her skills and imagination all while making a meal for someone who needs it. "We are rescuing a ton of food, cooking it up, and giving it to people who need it. This is what I do. This is my contribution to making the world a better place."