Working knowledge What a church kitchen manager thinks you should know

Sue Mohle manages the kitchen at James Island Presbyterian Church.

Sue Mohle supervises Wednesday dinners at James Island Presbyterian Church. Here’s what she’s learned from volunteering to feed 200 people on a weekly basis:

Mohle worked in the wine industry, and now enjoys applying her pairing skills to the menu at James Island Presbyterian. While the church doesn’t pour wine, she gets to muse over which dessert goes best with mushroom meatloaf. (She settled on Rice Krispies treats with white chocolate and dried cranberries.)

“I never really had a feel for volunteering, but I’ve definitely realized the personal value you get,” Mohle says. “I have so many people text me and e-mail me that it’s the best food they’ve had in their years of being fed at church.” Plus, because she runs the church’s DHEC-certified kitchen, Mohle is allowed to use it for personal projects, such as catering.

Although she’s on a strict budget, Mohle is constantly scouring magazines and online sites for ways to enhance her meals, which means churchgoers may sup on a dish swiped from The Local Palate or Bon Appetit before heading to handbell practice or Bible study. One of her favorite Pinterest finds involved repurposing wine corks as placard holders, so each item on the salad bar now bears a nutritional label affixed to a cork from Mohle’s collection.

A slew of high-tech solutions have emerged to help restaurants deal with no-shows and walk-ins, but there aren’t any apps to manage the crowds at a congregational dinner. Mohle stresses that anyone is welcome at the Wednesday meal (it costs $6 a person, with the family ticket price capped at $18), but she’s constantly frustrated by people not signaling their intentions to attend. If you’re planning on eating at the church, let Mohle know.

Hanna Raskin