News From the Kitchen
Last Thursday night, we transformed our cafe space with low-lit candles, crisp linens, and psychedelic Cambodian pop music for our March Guest Chef Night! Chef Mike Gulotta of Maypop, MoPho, and Tana at Treo took over the kitchen. Guests enjoyed a delicious 3-course dinner prepared by Chef Gulotta, themed around a fusion of Southeast Asian and New Orleans cuisine.
Guest Chef Nights at Liberty’s Kitchen are monthly fine-dining experiences which are open to the public and feature cuisine prepared by various acclaimed chefs in New Orleans. Liberty’s Kitchen alumni work alongside the chefs, giving them the opportunity to learn about the menu, various plating techniques, sample the menu items, and take part in the dynamic process of executing a fine-dining experience. Guests include supporters of Liberty’s Kitchen, community members, and our program graduates.
Guest Chef night honored two recent graduates, Devin and Jasmine, who both thanked everyone for attending and having a good time and supporting the program. Another Liberty’s Kitchen alum, Darnell who graduated, in 2016 and works as an IT technician while he attends college, shared a few words.
“I love coming back to Liberty’s Kitchen because it feels like home to me and it’s like seeing my second family.” —Darnell, YDP Graduate C’16
Gulotta, who describes his cooking style as “Mekong Delta meets the Mississippi Delta,” created an exceptional menu. Favorites dishes of the evening were the chaat salad and the main course, palm sugar glazed pork belly paired with red beans in gulf shrimp, xo sauce and crispy rice cakes. Before serving his delicious “Maypop Tart,” Gulotta shared the intricate process of how he prepared the dessert. Guests savored every bite of the gingerbread-crusted five spice meringue tart.
Both Mike Gulotta and his brother Jeff Gulotta have been longtime supporters of Liberty’s Kitchen and are actively involved with youth initiatives in New Orleans.
“I love being a part of this event and this program. What Liberty’s Kitchen is doing is important for the future of New Orleans.” –Chef Mike Gulotta
Among the guests in attendance at Guest Chef Night were Liberty’s Kitchen Board chair, Matt Schwartz along with other attendees from the Domain Company, Patrick Bordnick, Tulane Dean of Social Work who brought a visiting group of students from San Antonio, and Ysaac Ramirez, Executive Chef at Ace Hotel’s Josephine Estelle Restaurant, a Liberty’s Kitchen employer partner.
Special thanks to West Elm for graciously providing the centerpieces and to our volunteers for serving our guests and helping the night run smoothly. If you are interested in volunteering at our Guest Chef Nights, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and include your name and phone number.
We hope you join us for our next Guest Chef Night which will be on April 20th and feature Chef Dana Honn from Carmo Cafe. Tickets are publicized via our newsletter and are limited so sign up here to hear it first. We can’t wait to see you next month!
–Posted by Rhea Lewis, Development Intern
Gumbo is so indulgent, but it doesn’t need to be something to feel guilty about. If you ever want the New Orleans classic with a little ~extra~ nutrition, our School Nutrition Program’s healthy and delicious gumbo is the perfect dinner any day, but especially during National Nutrition Month.
Our version of gumbo is one of the most beloved meals we serve at SNP. We start with a traditional, rich, dark roux base and add our twist—loads of lean turkey, smoked turkey sausage, and plenty of fresh herbs and spices. The result is a lightened-up stew packed with flavor without an overload of fat and sodium. Served with brown rice and a side of okra, this fiber and protein-packed meal is sure to power you through the day!
This recipe is for 12 people, perfect for sharing with family and friends, but make as much as you want for a perfect weeknight meal! Gumbo is also super easy to freeze if you don’t have time to cook but still want something delicious and light. Make it on the weekend and go gumbo crazy all week long!
SNP’s Turkey Sausage Gumbo
1 lb cooked turkey or chicken, diced (breast and/or thigh meat best)
8 oz smoked sausage, sliced (turkey, if available)
1 cup white whole wheat flour (all-purpose will work just fine)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 onions, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
5 stalks celery, diced
½ head garlic, minced, about 4-5 cloves
1/3 cup Creole seasoning, to taste
2 bay leaves
8 cups low sodium or unsalted chicken broth
1 tsp fresh thyme, minced
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, minced
1 cup diced scallion
Salt and pepper, to taste
- In a large cast iron pot (at least 5 qt), begin making the roux. Add oil to pot, heating over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add flour, stirring constantly to remove any lumps, 2 minutes. Continue cooking, stirring frequently until mixture becomes glossy and dark brown, about 20-30 minutes.
- Add diced onion, bell pepper, and celery, sautéing until soft, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add creole seasoning, thyme, and bay, and cook 2 minutes.
- Add chicken broth and whisk until roux is well incorporated. Allow to simmer gently until thickened, 2 hours.
- Add hot sauce to taste, and salt and pepper if needed.
- Add cooked meat and continue cooking until flavors are combined, 15 minutes.
- Adjust seasoning and turn off heat. Stir in chopped parsley and scallions. Serve over brown rice and enjoy!
– Posted By Hana Rabin, Development Intern
This afternoon, Liberty’s Kitchen celebrated the graduation of Jasmine and Durrell from the Youth Development Program. At the start of the ceremony, our Executive Director, Dave welcomed family, friends, current students, and program staff for being here to commemorate the accomplishments of both graduates.
Dave then handed it over to our Culinary Training Coordinator, Tasheena who described how committed Jasmine and Durrell were throughout the program.
In particular, she shared how Jasmine and Durrell quickly jumped into their roles before receiving their culinary training due to a staff shortage in kitchen. And Jasmine and Durrell both stepped right up to the plate. “They pushed us through the time with lots of changes in the kitchen in their regular clothes, no training, and had a great can-do attitude when LK was short on staff,” said Tasheena.
Tasheena described Durrell as a mature, collected individual whose mantra was “I’m going to be alright.” Durrell is continuing on with Liberty’s Kitchen and working full-time with the School Nutrition Program at Lawrence D. Crocker elementary school. His supervisor at Crocker, Brandon, also praised Durrell and the potential that he has exhibited.
Tasheena described Jasmine as a “worker bee” who always wants to do more. During the program, Jasmine was hired and is working at Remoulade in the French Quarter. She has already been promoted and is continuing to exhibit an incredible work ethic. Her manager at Remoulade attended the ceremony and echoed what a valuable employee Jasmine has been.
Other Liberty’s Kitchen staff members, including our Social Worker, Career Development team, and Barista Trainer shared further words of encouragement and afterwards our Career Development Manager, Ms. D, presented the graduates with their certificates and culinary knife sets.
Afterwards, both Jasmine and Durrell thanked LK for giving them this opportunity and for their support throughout the program. The graduates were then welcomed to the Youth Leadership Program and Youth Leadership Council by LK’s new Young Men’s Voices have Power (YMVP) interns, Ahmaad and DJ.
Finally, our Director of Youth Success, Dennis, congratulated both graduates and delivered closing remarks.
“We are incredibly proud of you and we love you. We are looking forward to supporting your success and if you are willing to cross that finish line, we will be there for you. At Liberty’s Kitchen, you get what you put in; these two put so much in which is why they’re up here today.”
Jasmine and Durrell, all of us at Liberty’s Kitchen are so proud of you and excited for what your futures will hold. Here’s to both of you!
–Posted by Rhea Lewis, Development Intern
Happy National Nutrition Month! This month we are all about delicious recipes and tips that will make eating healthy something you actually look forward to. To kick things off, we wanted to share with you one of the favorite recipes: Buffalo Cauliflower!
I know. Cauliflower. Not the most exciting topic in the world. Unless you go to school at New Orleans College Prep, where “Orange Broccoli,” as the kids are calling it, is all the rage.
We love this recipe because it is simple, quick, and easy, but still packs a huge punch of flavor that can make almost anyone eat their vegetables (buffalo sauce makes everything better in our opinion). This is also a great way to introduce new food into your diet. So celebrate National Nutrition Month in style with this recipe, and let us know what you think. Buffalo Cauliflower– for even the most dedicated veggie hater.
SNP Buffalo Cauliflower
Makes 4 Servings
-1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
-1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
– ½- ¾ cup buffalo hot sauce, any brand you like!
-Parsley to taste, minced
-½ tsp each kosher salt and pepper
1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2) Toss cauliflower florets with oil, salt and pepper. Place on sheet pan in one layer and roast until browned and crisp, about 25 minutes.
3) Remove from oven and let cool briefly. Place cauliflower in bowl. Drizzle hot sauce over top and toss to coat.
4) Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving. If desired, serve with celery sticks and ranch or bleu cheese dressing on the side, and enjoy!
—Posted by Hana Rabin, Development Intern