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2131 Beaufait Street
Detroit, MI, 48207
United States

(313) 923-3535 ext. 202

Cooking Matters Michigan

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

Volunteer Spotlight: Steven LaFraniere

Rebecca Blauw

Steve Tell us about yourself. I’ve been cooking since I was 18. I still love it today after 40 years. One of reasons I do it is because I like to see other people enjoy my food and the things that I make. I’ve been working at Capuchin Soup Kitchen for 20 years. I am the assistant chef and prepare all the meals. We serve breakfast and lunch at the Meldrum site. I also work with our volunteers every day and guide them to do the things that needs to be done.

What does the Capuchin Soup Kitchen do as an organization? Capuchin offer services to those in need without charging any fees. We do a lot more than meals – we arrange for showers, clothing, AA meetings, and a garden program. We provide our neighborhood with services. We’re there to serve the people and help make their lives a little easier .

What is your experience with the Cooking Matters program? When I did my first Cooking Matters class, it was called Share Our Strength. I was a resident at Jefferson house, where I teach classes now. Back then we talked about the food pyramid, but otherwise class went the same way. A chef from Union Street a restaurant in Detroit came in and worked with us. I liked the fact that he came in and taught us. It made me want to pay it forward. I left Jefferson House and have been in recovery for 22 years. When Cooking Matters came along later, my boss Allison Costello started doing a class at Gleaners for single mothers. That’s when I became involved as a volunteer. This was my seventh year teaching the guys at Jefferson House.

What do you enjoy about volunteering? I have learned so much from working with volunteers at CSK and how enjoyable it can be.  Two or three guys come from Jefferson House help at Capuchin every day. It’s a nine month program. We get them to come and help work in the kitchen. After I work with them in the Cooking Matters class, things change. I build a better relationship with the group. They have a whole different attitude. Some of the guys are really interested in cooking, but some don’t really care that much. I try to gear the class towards them as much as possible. I want to show them skills they could use if they have a date over or want to impress their families, and how to keep within a budget. Some of the guys have never been in a kitchen before in their lives. It’s fun when you find someone who can’t cook and egg and they get really into it. Because Jefferson House is a residential program, we do the classes a little differently there. We do a competition for final week – one team makes an entrée and the other does dessert and salad. We plan the menu week four, shop for the ingredients week five, and make the food week six. As much as we can, we give them free range to give their input and create the meal.

Do you have a favorite recipe you would like to share?

Roasted Vegetables or Potatoes

Ingredients: Vegetables of of choice (I like yellow squash, green zucchini, roma tomatoes, fresh asparagus, red, green & yellow peppers, and  fresh garlic - chopped or bulb, or potatoes)

Directions: Cut veggies into 1/2 inch pieces In a large bowl combine: 1/4 cup olive oil 2 tablespoons chopped garlic Fresh or dried herbs Basil Thyme Oregano Marjoram Paprika Sea salt Pepper Place veggies in bowl and toss. Put seasoned veggies on a lined cookie sheet and bake for 15 to 20 mins until tender, or place in foil and put on a grill for 15 to 20 mins. If doing red skin or white potatoes, cook ½ hour to 45 mins until tender.