News From the Kitchen
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.
As part of the local ReFresh Project, Liberty’s Kitchen is conveniently located in the same building as the Broad St. Whole Foods Market (WFM). WFM shows its support of the Liberty’s Kitchen mission by purchasing our salad dressings (like the Green Goddess dressing) for the salad bar and employing some of our graduates.
During the culinary tier of the Youth Development Program, which is the second week, Chef T. takes trainees on a tour around the store to teach them about how supermarkets organize their products and how to make smart grocery-purchasing decisions. She taught us about product placement and a few other “tricks of the trade” that supermarkets use to encourage us to buy more. We saw that in the cheese section, they accompany the cheese with fruit, olives, and wine, which “suggestively sells it to you.”
In addition to showing us some ways in which supermarkets market their foods, Chef T. also taught us some ways to save money while shopping. For example, we learned that it is more economical to buy a whole melon, not the pre-cut and packaged containers (it also reduces waste from the disposable containers). I personally noticed a sale on the bunches of kale and saved money by choosing the bunches over the cut, washed, and packaged bags of kale. You can also save a few dollars by buying dry ingredients, like grains and legumes, from the bulk section. Bringing your own bags will get you a small discount as well – and it’s a simple way to reduce waste. Last, we learned about distinguishing fruits from vegetables, herbs from spices, and so much more.
I enjoyed the mini field trip and learned many facts and tips from Chef T.
–Posted by Miriam Teller, Development Intern
At this year’s Come Grow With Us (Friday, September 15), Liberty’s Kitchen will honor Jeff Gulotta with the 2017 Youth Advocate Award. Jeff and his brother Michael are co-owners of the award-winning MoPho and Maypop restaurants here in New Orleans. Before starting his own restaurants, Jeff worked at Restaurant August, Besh Steak at Harrah’s New Orleans, and many other restaurants in the city.
We are honoring Jeff because he continuously works with Liberty’s Kitchen to shape the “next face of the New Orleans restaurant industry,” which is a vibrant industry that means a lot to him. He is always looking for ways to give back to his community, and luckily, he found an opportunity through Liberty’s Kitchen.
Busy with his many restaurants and other ventures, Jeff also participates in the LK Youth Development Program by meeting with trainees during their fourth week of the program. Today, I was fortunate enough to join Jeff and the trainees at MoPho, the first of Jeff’s Southeast Asian restaurants. During the meeting, Jeff talked about his 25 years in the restaurant industry, how he worked every job from dishwasher up to owner, and how each trainee can also find success in the industry.
He spoke about the “big picture” of working at any job, how it is a way to make a living and support yourself so that you can also enjoy life. In order to get to that point, it is important to work hard at your job and improve your skill-set, and that starts with showing up to work and consistently proving your value to your employer. Liberty’s Kitchen gives its trainees the basic skills so they can get their “foot in the door,” but then it is up to every individual to grow from there and increase their value as an employee.
As a restaurant owner, Jeff pointed out all of the costs that contribute to maintaining a successful business. Employees must do their work well in order to be worth the cost of paying them. To do so, Jeff discussed the importance of time management; instead of seeing every free moment as a chance to take a break, you can see it as an opportunity to develop a new skill. Everyone can set “little goals that you can hit every day,” and that will make you attractive to an employer and contribute to a successful career. For people with a strong work ethic, there is so much potential in the restaurant industry, especially in New Orleans.
Jeff’s restaurants will also participate in our Come Grow With Us: Chef Showdown celebration. Maypop’s serving up Whole Roasted Eggplant with Goat Feta and Warm Bacon Vinaigrette & MOPHO’s bringing Khoa Soi, coconut braised chicken, and peach sambal.
-Posted by Miriam Teller, Development Intern