News From the Kitchen
The Emeril Lagasse Foundation provides support for youth to change their lives in lasting ways. Here are the stories of a few special young people whose lives have been touched by multiple programs that the Foundation supports. Watch this video of LK grad Nadja to see how organizations like the Emeril Lagasse Foundation and Liberty’s Kitchen, are working together to create a stronger New Orleans. Thanks to ELF for your generous support!
After Youth Development Program graduation, Liberty’s Kitchen alum go on to many different pursuits… sometimes even joining our staff! After graduating in 2011, LK alum Keith worked in restaurants all over the city including Commander’s Palace and Crescent City Brewhouse. Recently, he joined our opening team at Liberty’s Kitchen Poydras, where he works as a cook, producing classic hot lunch favorites for hundreds of people daily and even creating new menu items.
He spent hours standardizing the recipe for these delicious pralines and did a cost-analysis to prepare them for sale.
“Keith takes pride in his work and is very attentive to instruction,” says Chef Adam, Poydras General Manager.
In addition to his work as a cook, Keith is currently beta testing training modules for post-graduation education at Poydras for other LK alum. He exemplifies the Career Track training we’re implementing at Poydras, supporting our graduates to get to the next level in their career journeys.
Keith says,”I started as any other youth. I didn’t know where life would take me. So I understand the struggle they face every day. Liberty’s Kitchen gives them a way out. A way to change their own lives.”
We’re so proud of Keith and excited that we can provide another training ground for New Orleans young people with our new location.
Come try Keith’s pralines any day for just $2 at Liberty’s Kitchen Poydras!
There are so many people working hard behind the scenes to make sure Liberty’s Kitchen runs as smoothly as possible, and we want to give them credit! We were able to sit down with our Baking Instructor Michelle to ask her how she ended up at Liberty’s Kitchen and why she loves what she does.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m from Gramercy, LA, a tiny little Cajun town in St. James Parish. I moved to New Orleans officially this past August, but before that I lived all over the place. But now I’m back in Louisiana and I love being here!
How did you come to work at Liberty’s Kitchen?
While applying for a consulting position at a firm in Seattle, I gave a presentation on how the identity and culture of NOLA is shaped by local food NGOs like LK. I didn’t get the job, but presenting on it was the catalyst that inspired the move back home.
Where did you get your passion for food and baking?
My parents are Indian immigrants, so as a kid I was eating a mixture of Indian food and Cajun food. They were both physicians, so health was a huge factor in what I was allowed to eat. I didn’t have cable, and I didn’t have sweets– My parents preached the idea of “everything in moderation”. Teaching at LK has allowed me to teach what I learned from my childhood and later in life to the people in the program who maybe didn’t have the same lessons about health and nutrition expressed to them that I did growing up.
Being able to teach a tangible skill, like baking and cooking, is a great feeling; helping people every day and seeing immediate and long term results is why I love LK and everything that I do. It is amazing when you are baking cookies with the students, and then they are able to share them with everyone. When I hear them say “Okay, look what I did– I made this,” I know that what I am teaching is actively helping in their time here at LK.
What’s your favorite thing to teach?
I love teaching the students about healthy alternatives to food that they have grown up eating. I recently sat down with some students and helped them plan out a dinner menu that they could cook together. I first asked them what they wanted to eat, and then I helped them tweak it to create a more nutritious version; instead of fried chicken and fried vegetables, they roasted a whole chicken and roasted the vegetables with it. They came back after the weekend and told me they loved it!
One of my favorite healthier recipes is my banana bread. Instead of butter and oil to make it delicious, I add yogurt! It gives it an amazing texture and adds a little bit of natural sweetness, so I don’t have to use as much sugar!
Thank you Michelle for sitting down and talking with me! We love all of our staff and all they do for our young people. Give Michelle’s banana bread recipe a try and let us know what you think!
Michelle’s Banana Bread Recipe
Makes One loaf
Shelf life: 3 days or can be frozen
- 2 ½ cups bananas, pureed
- ½ cup plain yogurt
- ½ cup canola oil
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 ¾ cups flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
Mix dried ingredients in a medium bowl. Set aside. Whisk bananas, yogurt, and oil in a large bowl. Add sugar, vanilla, and eggs to the banana mixture. Add dried ingredients to the liquid ingredients, mixing until just combined. Cover loaf pan with oil and a light layer of sugar, add ingredients to the loaf pan. Bake at 300 degrees for 45 minutes. Test with a fork to make sure it is cooked through. Let cool and enjoy!
-Posted by Hana Rabin, Development Intern
Want more opportunities to learn about healthy, nutritious food in your communities? Our School Nutrition team has put together a survey to hear your ideas! One of our main goals is to support healthy lifestyles, and we can’t do that without your input.
Below is a message from our Nutrition and Communications Coordinator Caroline Robb, who is in charge of getting our healthy initiatives into our schools and neighborhoods!
We are in the development phase of creating workshops, courses, and other offerings for you to learn more about healthy eating, cooking, and other related topics. We are so excited to expand our community impact and to bring healthy lifestyle ideas to you, but in order to do so, we need your help! Please take a moment to let us know how we can best bring these opportunities to you by clicking this Community Education Survey. We can’t wait to get started!
Think we need more diverse programming in your community? We really want to know what you all are interested in– cooking skills? Understanding nutrition? Lifestyle balance? Budgeting? We want to help with all that we can, but we can’t if we don’t know what you might need. Please fill out this survey and give us all of your thoughts!