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Cooking Matters Michigan

Empowering families with the skills, confidence and knowledge to prepare healthy and affordable meals

Volunteer spotlight: Stewart McWilliams

dorothy hernandez

Teaching low-income families how to cook healthy meals at home on a budget is something close to chef Stewart McWilliams' heart. As a child, he learned how to cook for his family, reading cookbooks and following along. By the time he got to high school, he knew he wanted to be a chef.

At L’Anse Creuse, where he went to high school, he was a part of the vocational center there and took culinary classes. He then took his talents to South Beach where he pursued a culinary arts degree at the well-regarded Johnson and Wales culinary school.

With degree in hand he returned home to Michigan. His first job was with the former Wolverine Banquet Center. His next job was with Rochester Hills Beer Co., where he started off as sous chef, working his way up the ladder to corporate executive chef, his current title.

When asked why he wanted to volunteer for Cooking Matters, he says, “(Growing up) I know what it’s like to have one meal a day … it’s hard to do. “After I got established (in the industry) I felt it was time to give back and help kids going through what I went through.”

Since approaching us last year about volunteering, Stewart has already taught 5 classes, and is currently teaching Cooking Matters for Families at Pure Word Missionary Baptist Church. He was also one of eight chefs representing us last year at first lady Michelle Obama’s kickoff event for Chefs Move To Schools.

When asked what was a class highlight for him, he wrote in an email, “I would say, I was doing a class and several people in class had never cut up a whole chicken before, so showing everyone how to do that and having them help and then the next week hearing how two people did it at home and were successful with it and even took my suggestion of making stock out of the carcass and then turn the stock into soup.”

Thanks Stewart for all you do!

Here’s a recipe from Stewart that can be made for under $10 if you have the spices in your pantry.

Herb Roasted Whole Chicken with asparagus and Quinoa Pilaf 1 whole chicken 1 cup water 1T Dried Oregano 1t Dried Basil 1t Garlic Powder ¼ t Dried Rosemary ¼ t Thyme ½ t salt ½ t pepper 1 pound asparagus 1 T olive oil 1 ½ cup Quinoa 1 cup low sodium chicken broth 2 cups water 1 carrot 1 celery stalk 1 small onion 2T canola oil

Pre heat oven to 450 degrees, place chicken in a roasting pan add 1 cup of water, in small bowl mix all spices, salt and pepper. Sprinkle mixture over chicken place chicken in oven for 15 minutes or until skin is brown. Cover chicken with aluminum foil, reduce oven temperature to 350 and cook for 45 minutes or until chicken reaches 165 degrees.

While chicken is roasting, rinse asparagus cut off bottom white part, toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil place in an oven safe dish cover and cook in oven for 15 minutes.

Wash carrots, celery and onion and dice. In a 4 quart pot over medium heat, add canola oil and sauté vegetables for 5 minutes add quinoa, 2 cups of water and 1 cup chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat cover and cook until all liquid is gone about 15 minutes.