News From the Kitchen
Our School Nutrition Program staff has worked hard all fall to start the school year off right, preparing thousands of healthy meals every day for local schoolchildren. Co-Production Managers Susan and Brandon joined our LK family in August and are a true Dream Team, bringing to the table skills in talent development, production, and communications, as well as an endless passion for SNP! We sat down with them to learn more.
Tell us about yourselves.
Susan: I am from El Salvador, a beautiful country I love and hold dear, but it has a lot of social and safety issues. Because of those issues I came to the United States in 2005 to follow my dream to better my range of opportunities and life choices. In the process of following that dream, my daughter is benefitting immensely from these new opportunities that I only dreamt of her having. I have worked in the restaurant industry since 2006 and have since transferred my kitchen abilities into the world of management and training. I believe that my culinary and managerial skills can be used as a tool for social change.
Brandon: I am originally from New Orleans and have traveled in different cities such as San Francisco, Atlanta and New York. I went to culinary school at the Art Institute of NYC. I connect fully with the mission of helping others which is the focal point of Liberty’s Kitchen.
What is SNP?
Susan: The School Nutrition Program is a branch of Liberty’s Kitchen that touches the lives of more than 1,500 kids and their families on a daily basis by nurturing them and fulfilling their need for a healthy, balanced diet. We believe good nutrition will facilitate kids’ success in academic performance as well as outside of school. One of our main objectives is to feed them with three to four meals on a daily basis with as much food made from scratch as we can, using local fresh products while following USDA guidelines. We aim to create menus that are both delicious and nutritious.
We hope to touch the lives of these kids not only through providing a balanced diet but also by being part of an integral education that will lead them to make better meal choices outside of school. To fulfill this goal, we are starting to work hand in hand with New Orleans College Prep to create and implement educational programs like: farm to school, composting, and school gardening whereby both Liberty’s Kitchen and the schools can educate kids on the importance of each project.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
Susan: My favorite part is providing our team members with the right tools for success and seeing how the tools I’m giving them helps them work towards positive changes in their lives.
Brandon: I love feeding the children and menu development.
Where do you want SNP to be one year from now?
Susan: We know SNP will continue being a source of empowerment, betterment, and a tool for social justice and nourishment for our community. We are working to grow and give more people a chance to join this project. I see SNP making more job creation, education, and training opportunities possible. Just as importantly, it will keep bettering the lives of children through providing the nutrition they deserve and that they will receive through our special menus and educational activities.
Brandon: Agreed. It’s our goal to expand our program to other schools using the systems we have implemented.
Anything else to include?
Susan: Just a little quote: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” –Gandhi
We’re thrilled to have award-winning Chef Jason Klutts doing a guest stint in our kitchen now through the holidays!
Originally from southern Louisiana, Jason “grew up around the stove” and knew he wanted to be a chef from an early age. He attended the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute and got his kitchen chops all over the map: in France, New York, and Chicago. In addition to winning multiple awards for his creative and tasty dishes, Jason has been featured on the Food Network, NOLA.com, Southern Living, Star Chefs, and more. He’s been cooking for fourteen years and most recently worked as the executive chef at Cane & Table, where he received local, regional, and national recognition.
Chef Jason’s been part of the LK fam since he came to the grand opening of our Refresh location. He’s been a major supporter, representing at Come Grow With Us and bringing Cane & Table into the fold as an externship and hiring partner. He has worked with THREE graduates: Shayne, Fred, and Leon! Now working with us as a Guest Chef, Jason’s “excited to be able to contribute” and whipping up culinary magic every day at 300 N. Broad.
Try his special oven fried chicken sandwich with papaya honey mustard and spicy mayo on a brioche bun for a flavorful lunch! And stay tuned for more creative rotating specials and details on Guest Chef Nights at Liberty’s Kitchen, coming in 2017.
Lots of big happenings this month in our Youth Leadership Program!
Congratulations to August 2016 graduates Da’Mon (Tumma) Keelen, Noel (Know) Jackson, and Diana (DiDi) Otowoshe, who joined the ranks of college students! Tumma and Know are pursuing degrees in general studies at Delgado Community College; DiDi is pursuing a degree in mass communication at UNO. We are so proud and can’t wait to see what’s next!
Bourbon House = Team LK
On October 17th, Chefs Devan Giddix and Rene Bajeux hosted a group of LK graduates at Bourbon House, of the Dickie Brennan family of restaurants. Attendees gained insight into the path to become a chef as well as creating a sustainable work-life balance, toured their fabulous kitchen and event spaces, learned to efficiently shuck oysters, and of course sampled delicious items off the menu. Thanks to Bourbon House for such an exceptional experience!
On the Horizon: Health and Wellness
Starting Tuesday, November 1st, LK grads will have an opportunity to work out their bodies along with their minds in a newly formed running group. Look for us jogging the Lafitte Greenway every Tuesday morning, weather permitting!