Hot News! A New Stove at Old First

For more than a decade, Old First volunteers have gathered on the second Saturday of the month to cook a hot meal for CHiPS using our kitchen stove, providing a nutritious meal to 300 men and women.

One of the unsung heroes of Old First: our kitchen stove. We use it on the second Saturday of each month to cook our meals for Christian Help in Park Slope (CHiPS), the Fourth Avenue soup kitchen and social service provider.

CHiPS partners with local churches, synagogues, civic groups and volunteers to cook and deliver food to the hungry and homeless. It serves as many as 250 men and women daily.

“Each month, we cook about 15 trays of ziti,” says Old First deacon Pete Redell. “Each tray probably serves about 20-25 people. Those 15 trays a month equal about 4,000 meals a year. There is a group of people at Old First who have been cooking for 15 to 25 years, every second Saturday, 8-10 a.m., at church.”

Our ministry to homeless men also depends on our having a decent stove. In addition to our work for CHiPS, we’ve used it to cook 800 meals over the course of six summers for our Respite Shelter for homeless men.

After Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, the stove was used to cook 200,000 meals for the Hurricane Sandy Relief Kitchen, under the direction of Andy Wandzilak from Two Boots restaurant.

Our stove had been part of life at Old First since it was purchased new in the 1930s. However, in late 2017, it began leaking gas, which, of course, we turned off immediately. Alas, it was time to cast off the old Viking, with all of its little idiosyncrasies.

“Over the years, it worked fine,” Pete says, “but it didn’t really have a true thermostat on it. Somewhere along the line, the thermostat broke. So we would just turn it on — and it was on!”

We then contacted the Viking company, its original manufacturer, to see if we could find replacement parts. No dice. We also tried the secondary market. No luck. That led to the decision to purchase a brand new stove. Andy from Two Boots advised us on which new stoves to investigate and the best vendors for the purchase; Old First Admin and Finance Committee Chair Steve Lappert helped with the research.

Non-negotiable: it had to be an industrial stove, with ten burners. The width of the ovens had to be a specific size so that the CHiPS trays can fit. 

The new stove, Jan 2018.

We found a good one: a Therma-Tek range. The cost ended up being about $3900. The consistory didn’t hesitate to fund it, since a quality oven will perform consistently for CHiPS. 

“There are fancier stoves,” Pete says, “but this one met our requirements.”

The stove also comes in handy on Consecration Sundays, as well as for parties renting the hall for catered occasions. In the meantime, the CHiPS cooking tradition continues.

“We have a great time,” Pete says. “We talk about movies, politics, and things that are going on in our lives. It’s not just standing there and working. It’s having fun together, sharing stories and fellowship with one another.”

Interested in helping out? Contact Pete Redell or Steve Lappert at  

Click here to find out more about CHiPs.

Attention high school students: you can earn community credits by cooking for CHiPS. We’ll provide you with a confirmation letter stating your hours of service. Email us!

CHiPS (Christian Help in Park Slope) was founded in 1971 and serves the hungry and homeless of Park Slope, through partnerships with local churches, synagogues, civic groups, and volunteers. CHiPS provides hot, nutritious meals, bagged lunches, and a food pantry in a caring and respectful environment, serving as many as 250 men and women daily. Photo by Vera Niewenhuis.

Old First member Ken Niewenhuis helps deliver groceries to CHiPS following Grocery Bag Sunday, Fall 2016. Photo by Vera Niewenhuis