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Two Good Co’s Jane Strode: “One of the most powerful ways to recover from trauma is to give back”

As head chef of Two Good Co, Strode finds solace in providing meals to women in need, and the power of humanity.

Jane Strode, head chef of catering business and social enterprise Two Good Co.

Jessica Lindsay (main)

As a catering business, food delivery service and social enterprise that supports and trains women who have escaped from domestic violence, Two Good manages crises big and small on a daily basis. Like many businesses, Covid-19 hasn’t been easy to navigate – but as a service providing meals to domestic violence shelters, their work is more vital than ever.

Recently appointed head chef, Jane Strode stepped into her role in January – and despite navigating split shifts and ever-moving goalposts, she has wholeheartedly embraced the role. “I cannot express my gratitude. I am a chef with a job and it’s a really amazing job,” says Strode.

Along with having creative control over the food Two Good puts out, Strode also mentors women in the kitchen, who are there to learn new skills, regain their confidence and work as a team. “It’s very case-by-case and [about] really honing in on the support for each individual working with us,” she says. “There’s more than one way to get the best out of someone, and it’s about finding those ways.”

To that end, Strode is at the helm of developing new in-depth training manuals, to outline clear processes to reduce stress and anxiety in the kitchen. The team also checks in with a clinical psychologist to develop strategies and plans. “If [people] are told to do something three different ways, it’s going to be tough for a woman that’s suffered trauma, or may have been out of the workforce for a while. So we’re working on visual aids,” she says. “It’s all about communication and consistency.”

Strode – who lost her husband Jeremy Strode to suicide in 2017 – brings a deep sense of empathy and patience to the role. “I feel like the trauma I’ve suffered makes me so suited to the job – you can really relate,” she says. “I can have conversations about grief. Or how long it takes to make sense of things… It helps.” Strode says the role is also helping her own journey. “One of the most powerful ways to recover from trauma is to give back. If something really bad happens to you, and it’s just unfair and awful – sometimes you can start to think like you’re a victim – that’s self-perpetuating. A way to change that is to be grateful and give back, and I try to impart that.”

Food-wise Strode is bringing fresh flavours in neat packages to Two Good’s jarred lunches and take-home dinners. “I love big bold flavours – I trained at Rockpool and that just doesn’t really ever leave you. We’re focused on getting lots of textures and colour in there. Then also to strike the right balance of super healthy and a little bit of richness too.” While the food is essential, it’s the people behind it and the ethos of paying it forward that truly drives Two Good. “The focus is on rehabilitating women, who have had a really shit cards dealt to them. The food is a by-product – which is also excellent and sends love to people,” says Strode.

Overall Strode embodies what Two Good does as an organisation, cooking nourishing meals and empowering women recovering from trauma and grief. “For me what comes out of it is really the will of the human spirit, to turn things around and not just survive, but be happy.”

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