I first got into cooking because of my father, who was a small grocer and meat cutter. My grandfather was too, in Detroit. I started working prepping food part-time while I was in college. After I graduated, I realized that I couldn’t stand being tied to a computer and cubicle. None of the jobs I was interviewing for would be a good fit. I spent 2 years as an apprentice at Holiday Market. I’ve worked there for 6 years now. I used to be a huge computer and music nerd growing up. Actually, I still am.
How did you first get involved with the Cooking Matters program?
When I first started volunteering at the food bank, I packed boxes for the Fresh Food Share program. Gleaners staff members told me about the Cooking Matters program because they thought it would be a good fit for me.
You’ve done eight classes this past year. What keeps you coming back?
When I first starting volunteering, I wasn’t sure what the participants were going to expect of me. Because of the “Food Network effect” I thought that they might want me to be loud, boisterous, and entertaining, or that they would try to stump me with difficult questions. When I realized how earnestly they wanted to learn about practical cooking techniques, everything changed. Instead of questions about obscure Middle Eastern fruits, I got things like “How do I sauté that?” “What is braising?” or “How can I get my kids to like green beans?” Once, I showed a participant how to make his own salad dressing. He was so surprised by how good it tasted. He made it at home and told me it really helped him to eat more vegetables and salads without adding junk food to them. I spend a lot of my time in a windowless kitchen preparing food for customers who may or may not appreciate it. Cooking Matters is refreshing because I can use my skills to help people in a way that is very meaningful to them.
Do you have any good tips for sticking to a food budget?
Find creative ways to make beans, veggies, rice, and noodles. Experiment with sauces. They can add flavor to anything. You’ll never get tired of eating staples if you have three or four great sauces.
What ingredients will we always find in your kitchen?
Canned tomatoes, fresh eggs, and oyster sauce.
What do you do in your spare time?
I’ve been thinking about buying a house in Detroit soon, so I am enjoying following the property auctions. I don’t really have an ideal neighborhood. I love discovering new music, and seeing live music.
Do you have a recipe to share?
Preheat over to 350 degrees
2 T minced garlic
1 diced sweet bell pepper
2 diced large mushrooms
1/2 diced medium zucchini
1/2 diced large Spanish onion
4 T extra virgin olive oil
2 diced roma tomatoes (substitute 1/2 can petite diced tomatoes)
2 tsp fresh chopped thyme
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup red wine
Combine in a bowl:
3 cups cubed (1/2") old/dry/toasted bread
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 T salt
2 1/2 lbs ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
Over med/low heat, sauté the garlic, onion, mushroom, and zucchini until onion is transparent and beginning to brown. Add tomatoes, thyme and parsley and cook for 30 seconds. Add broth and wine and simmer until reduced by 1/4 to 1/3. In a bowl, combine meats, cubed bread, salt and pepper and combine with a sturdy spoon until incorporated. Pour hot mixture over meat mixture and fully combine. On baking sheet lined with parchment form a long slender loaf shape with hands. Bake at 350 until cooked through - internal temp around 160 deg. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing and serving with fresh herb garnish.
A big supporter of volunteer events, Jared got to hang out with Santa at the Noel Night meetup in December.