Highlander is searching for a talented, self-motivated, and detail-oriented Chef to serve on Highlander’s Workshop Center Team, which provides radical hospitality to the thousands of guests we welcome annually.

Learn more about Highlander’s current and past work here: https://www.highlandercenter.org/our-story/


The Workshop Center Chef will be the lead food services crew member and work in tandem with the Workshop Center Assistant to collaboratively manage a team of up to 6 people responsible for the food services and housekeeping duties that are critical to Highlander’s radical hospitality work for movements. The position will be responsible directly to the Workshop Center Team Coordinator, who is supervised by the Executive Director(s). The position will also work collaboratively with members of other teams. The ideal candidate is a talented cook who loves nourishing people’s minds, bodies, and spirits with delicious, nutritious food and who wants to lead a crew and work as part of a dynamic and diverse staff to provide radical hospitality to all people who gather at Highlander. The right candidate believes in the power of food and sharing meals as a critical part of transforming the world.

Highlander welcomes mission-aligned guests and groups that typically range from 15-50 people, and the team is actively adding to its capacity to welcome more than one large group simultaneously. Highlander is open throughout the week and year-round, with a steady stream of short-term residential visits (usually 3-4 nights, including weekends, but also week-long or longer). Occasionally, Highlander has been known to host events that exceed 1,000 people per day. In the 12 months prior to the pandemic, Highlander hosted 49 groups from all over the region and world, totaling 1,245 people and 10,000 meals. Highlander expects to meet or exceed that number after the pandemic has subsided significantly.

More specific responsibilities will include:

• Strategize, develop, and implement (in conjunction with Directors & Coordinator and other staff) polices, procedures, and guidelines for the Workshop Center’s Kitchen, Dining, and Food Prep & Service operations
• Assist in recruiting and hiring Workshop Center team members (cleaning and kitchen/dining crews) with Coordinator and Workshop Center Assistant
• Plan and lead meal preparation for Highlander’s guests and occasional catering requests
• In first several months on the job, work with a Land and Food Systems consultant to integrate a multi-phase, multi-year food systems vision into short-, mid-, and long-term food service planning
• Design and implement rotating seasonal menus
• Ensure that kitchen and food supplies are stocked and ready for optimal use
• Track purchase orders and turn in receipts
• Keep track of multiple inventories (supplies, equipment, food, etc.)
• Inform Highlander’s Building & Grounds team of equipment and structural issues and repair needs
• Maintain a “health inspection ready” kitchen, dining room, and storage areas
• Delegate tasks to team members in-person and via on-line project management tools
• Supervise staff and provide support to team members when needed
• Welcome and engage visitors and program participants and other guests of Highlander
• Welcome and orient guests upon arrival
• Communicate the history of Highlander to guests in one-on-one and group settings
• Participate in organizational trainings and events


Applicants invited to an initial interview will show evidence of a majority of the following:

• At least 3 years of paid culinary experience, food service, and/or catering/event experience for small, medium, and large groups (15-1,000<) of people with diverse dietary tastes, needs, and restrictions
• A demonstrated understanding of sanitation standards and best practices for food service, kitchen maintenance, and culinary supply maintenance
• Excellent communication skills (listening, speaking, writing)
• Experience in and commitment to working in a multi-racial, cross-class, multi-gendered workplace that centers the leadership of people most directly impacted by systems of oppression
• Ability to train cooking staff with the goal of embracing and serving a wide variety of healthy menus utilizing a maximum of fresh produce and a minimum of processed food
• Willingness to think, act, and plan creatively about food service as it aligns with Highlander’s mission
• The ability to help build and maintain an inventory system that tracks and sustains supplies and capital equipment
• Familiarity project management software (i.e., Asana)
• Familiarity with using databases to enter, track, and retrieve information
• Ability to creatively accommodate various dietary restrictions and preferences
• A desire and capacity to engage with the work (and keep up with the fast-pace changes to that work) of the various teams that fulfill Highlander’s mission
• The ability to proactively engage and build rapport with guests and other staff members
• Ability to meet multiple deadlines quickly and efficiently
• Ability to pivot quickly to meet emerging priorities
• Ability to meet the physical demands of the role (squatting, standing for long periods of time, lifting 20-50 pounds, to use the tools necessary for menu planning, inventory, and food preparation)
• Ability to commute to/from Highlander regularly, occasionally on short notice, and at night/before sunrise


• Proficiency with Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.)
• Previous experience with hospitality in a school and/or retreat center setting
• Familiarity with participatory models of organizational development, governance, and budgeting
• Comfortable working in a rural setting
• Speaking/writing abilities in language(s) other than English (proficiency in Spanish would be a huge plus)


The Workshop Center Chef will be responsible directly to the Workshop Center Team Coordinator, who is supervised by the Executive Director(s). The chef will be a part of the Workshop Center & Operations Teams. Members of Highlander’s staff are expected to participate in regular team meetings, monthly staff & Board committee meetings, three Board meetings per year, and other organization-wide events. Highlander is a highly participatory workplace, with ample opportunity for staff members to work both autonomously and interdependently across teams.


This role is currently set as a Level 1 annual salary based on Highlander’s pay scale, which in this fiscal year is $46,725 (before taxes/withholdings). Once the position assumes responsibilities of managing staff, the pay will increase to Highlander’s Level 2 salary, currently set at $49,103.
Highlander actively seeks to provide comprehensive and expansive benefits to its employees. The current benefits package is approximately $8-$12k in value. Benefits include employer-funded comprehensive health (medical, dental, vision and HRA) for staff and dependents, a retirement fund with an employer contribution that begins after 1 year of employment, staff development funds, generous annual holiday and vacation leave, sick and family leave, and a sabbatical program.


This position is currently classified as non-exempt, with an expected commitment of 40 hours per week required (35 work hours and 5 paid break hours). Flexibility in arrival and departure time may be needed to support the work, including nights and regular weekends. Some travel may be required.


Highlander is located on 186 acres of land in rural East Tennessee (near Knoxville) and is considered a “movement home” by thousands of people from all over the world. Based on the nature of the position, we encourage applications from people who can commute daily to Highlander, work occasional evenings and weekends, and respond to emergencies as they arise. We encourage applications from East Tennesseans and anyone who would be willing to relocate. We offer up to $1,000.00 in relocation reimbursements and, when available, temporary transitional housing.


Step 1: In one PDF document, compile:

• cover letter,
• resume/CV,
• name & contact information for 3 references, and
• a sample menu based on the following scenario:
  o Feeds 25 people buffet style
  o Dietary restrictions for the group include 12-vegan, 4-gluten free, 1 Halal, 5-lactose intolerant, 1-nightshade allergy
  o The menu should include 3 meals a day (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner) for a 5-day gathering
  o Things to note: We do not serve beef or pork at Highlander

Step 2: Email that PDF document to apply@highlandercenter.org. Write “Workshop Center Chef” in the Subject Line. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Optional: In addition to the required information above, you can send other application content that showcases your skills, interests, and experiences. Make sure to include any explanation needed of the content. The content can come in any form of media, which can include but is not limited to:

• A Timeline of your work, life or experiences
• A Video
• A PowerPoint or other form of presentation
• A Graphic design, Collage or sets of Pictures and Photographs
• A Song, poem, or other writing samples


Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, with a priority application deadline of April 26th for initial consideration. The application process will be open until the position is filled. We hope to fill this position as soon as possible, with an anticipated start date of sometime in May 2021. Select applicants will receive an initial invitation to interview with Highlander’s hiring committee. The final candidate(s) will receive an invitation to interview with the entire Highlander staff.


If you have a question about the position before applying, please send it to apply@highlandercenter.org and someone from the Highlander committee will reply.

Highlander is an equal opportunity employer, and we especially encourage applications from Black, brown, and indigenous people, women, LGBTQ+ and gender non-conforming folks, and working-class/cash poor people. Folks directly impacted by the criminal justice system are also encouraged to apply.