News From the Kitchen
On March 14, 2018, at 10:00 am, students of Liberty’s Kitchen led a walk-out in memoriam and protest of the lives lost in the Parkland, Florida school shooting. The main objective was to observe 17 minutes of silence to commemorate the 17 people who were killed in the mass shooting.
Our students were joined by other young people in the community, along with LK staff and partners. The walk-out was held in the ReFresh Lobby in between Liberty’s Kitchen’s Broad Street location and Whole Foods.
During the 17 minute silence, attendees were able to reflect on how gun violence has affected their lives and communities, and share these sentiments on posters throughout the lobby. There were also messages that expressed LK’s overall stance:
“Gun violence tragically interrupts the lives and livelihoods of youth, families, and communities in New Orleans, and across the United States. We are asking you – our community – to join us in “saying” #NeverAgain and #Enough.”
Judy, known around here as “Ms. Judy,” is from Calgary, and she first heard about Liberty’s Kitchen in 2008. She was working for the fire department and missed a chance to go to New Orleans to volunteer with the department in post-Katrina rebuilding efforts. She started a new job a few months later with an electric company, where she received 31 vacation days.
That’s when she knew she wanted to spend part of that vacation time volunteering in New Orleans.
She connected with Liberty’s Kitchen in 2010 and initially committed to spending two weeks in the city, unsure of what her days would hold. She started at Sylvanie Williams, helping out in the cafeteria. She loved the experience so much, she decided to return the next year, this time for a whole month.
And she’s been returning ever since. So, what keeps her coming back?
“The students open up to me. We mostly talk about family; maybe they feel safe with me. Maybe I remind them of their grandma!” says Ms. Judy.
As I’m talking with her, we’re interrupted by students who want to get in one more hug before she leaves. Charles and Otto walk by, exchanging hugs and inside jokes. Ms. Judy laughs and wipes away tears as they talk, exchange quips, and reassurances about keeping in touch.
The students aren’t the only ones who will miss her; the staff also looks forward to her annual return.
“Ms. Judy has become such a beloved part of our family,” CEO David Emond said. “She loves our young people and sees so much potential in them and inspires us all with her commitment to making the world a better place.”
Ms. Judy’s humility and kindness go a long way. She shared that—as part participant and part observer—she has something to learn from the students just by listening to them.
So what advice does she have for people interested in volunteering?
“You don’t try to solve whatever problem they have because you’re not going to. You just let them tell you whatever it is about their lives, whether good or bad.”
We love you, Ms. Judy! See you next time!
– Contributing Writer, Michelle Mathew, Development Coordinator
Our monthly Guest Chef Night celebration was held on Thursday, March 15th featuring Chef Marcus Jacobs of Marjie’s Grill. Attendees enjoyed an unforgettable meal that included fresh cracklins, Thai-style ceviche, BBQ gulf shrimp, and Thai BBQ pork shank. Each course was paired with drinks courtesy of Roulaison Distilling Co., Wayward Owl Brewing Co., and Coffee Science. Additional food sponsors also included Home Place Pastures, Whole Foods Market, and Sprout NOLA.
Attendees also enjoyed a live auction with items from Bacchanal and a special opportunity to support our Youth Development Program and initiatives to combat food insecurity in New Orleans.
And, no Guest Chef Night is complete without celebrating our participants. Guests heard first-hand accounts from graduates CeCe and Liberty about how Liberty’s Kitchen helped them to achieve personal and professional goals.
We kicked off our 2018 Guest Chef Night Series with Chef Will Avelar of Meril. Chef Will created an extraordinary family style meal that included Fried Rock Shrimp Salad, Korean Short Ribs with cucumber kimchee, Candied Pork Ribs, Miso Glazed Carrots, Lemongrass Steamed Jasmine Rice, and Bananas Foster Doberge cake. Attendees also enjoyed passed appetizers of Caviar Deviled Eggs and Gulf Oyster Shooters.
Current program trainees and graduates joined Chef Will in the kitchen and as front-of-house staff to make the evening a great success. Chef Will also included Javette Hitchens, a graduate of Liberty’s Kitchen and a current line cook at Meril to assist with the evening.
“I’m honored to have been asked to participate as a guest chef for Liberty’s Kitchen’s dinner series and show my support for this incredible program,” said Chef Will. “Mentorship is invaluable for young people in the hospitality industry, and myself, as well as the Foundation and Emeril’s restaurants, are proud to be a part of helping shape the next generation of this workforce in our community,” stated Chef Will.
Attendees also participated in a live auction. Items included an Ariodante Contemporary Art & Craft Gallery Experience that included art and jewelry pieces, a wine tasting courtesy of Bizou Wines, and a meat and cheese tray from Liberty’s Kitchen. Chef Will also auctioned a private cooking demonstration for 12 people to be held at Liberty’s Kitchen with the winner selecting the menu.