Our newest Faces of Feeding Chittenden spotlight is Greta, a current Community Kitchen Academy (CKA) student! Greta has been cooking all her life, and is already an expert– each year, she says she’s in charge of not one but Two family Thanksgiving meals. But despite the skills she came in with, she’s still learning valuable lessons in CKA including “the lingo of cooking” and respect for all the chefs she’s sharing the kitchen with (although she pointed to Chef Jim and said with a smile, “this one likes to tease too much”).
This week, Greta’s working on her final project for the seven-week CKA program– a giant pot of Jambalaya with plenty of shrimp, andouille sausage, vegetables, and unique spices that smell almost as amazing as they taste. Greta says she started CKA because she has plans to start a business with her granddaughter. They want to create a food truck with “soul food” like baked and fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, and collard greens because according to Greta, that’s what the Burlington local food scene needs most.
When asked why she wants to start a food truck rather than a traditional restaurant, Greta responded, “you have to sit still in order to own a store or restaurant! What’s the sense of sitting still if I can go all over the place?” We’re so excited to see Greta and her granddaughter rolling around Burlington with their homemade comfort food.
Greta has been cooking for her whole life– she says she learned most of what she knows from her mother, who was a major role model for her, and is the inspiration behind the dishes she is planning for her future food truck. Greta grew up in a large family in New York City (she’s fourth of ten siblings) and didn’t move to Vermont until 2003, largely due to the 9/11 and the destruction she saw in her neighborhood. During her childhood in the city, Greta’s mother had her and her siblings helping in the kitchen “from the age of five”. Greta’s mother cooked so much and so well, she and her siblings often called her “Betty Crocker.” And she didn’t just cook for the family– she started a soup kitchen for the homeless population in their neighborhood, and would take the lead on free community meals every Sunday.
Greta follows in her mothers footsteps by cooking for everyone she knows. Says she tends to do a lot for the people in her Burlington apartment complex, who are thrilled to have her as a neighbor. She says, “I make sure people get diapers, dog food, cat food, whatever. If they’re hungry and need something to eat, I’ll cook them a meal.” And like her mother, who hosted large family dinners twice a week, Greta especially loves to cook for her family. She lives with two of her grandchildren, who are lucky enough to have her cooking daily (and to have Greta around to “keep them busy and out of trouble”). We’re so happy to have met her through the Community Kitchen Academy, and we can’t wait to try more of her amazing food!