Posted on Wed, March 04, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
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Today we’re talking with Timothy Tucker, a 2008 Terra Madre delegate who teaches a culinary training course at the Salvation Army Center of Hope in Louisville, Kentucky. It’s an innovative model—one he hopes will be replicated elsewhere. It’s a ten week program that the Center has been running for about 3.5 years, a program in which homeless people are not just given a meal, but also given culinary vocational training that can help get them back on their feet. Timothy helped design the program, and has been with it since its inception. He has a commitment not just to culinary training but to good, clean, and fair food.
Q: I know that you were working in Louisville restaurants before moving over to the Salvation Army. Had you ever taught culinary skills before you began working with this program in 2005?
TT: Never! I am a much better teacher now than when I started. I feel like I am more in tune with the students, and as the day changes so do the classes. I feel like I have so much that I want to teach that instead of 3 classes a year, I feel like the last 4 years has been one big class. As the money crunch has happened, we have taught more old school things like canning and curing—you know, the way grandma did it!
Q: Can you share any of your favorite success stories with us?
TT: Yup, Cooper. He was an R and B deejay in the early 80’s on the radio (his voice is like silk). Drugs took control of his life for along time after that. He came through our program, and he finished my class with an A and perfect attendance, then went to cook for kids at the YMCA safe house. He has been there for two years, he loves his job and pretty much everyone loves him. I have many more stories. In fact, in my book I have a whole chapter on student stories.
Q: Do you think the Center of Hope culinary training model is replicable elsewhere?
TT: YES!!!!!! Please help me… I’m working on it.
Q: What has been the most challenging aspect of this job?
TT: Getting and keeping healthy food in and keeping crappy food out.
Q: What did you hope to gain by attending Terra Madre?
TT: I wanted to meet the great people doing great things, the people who are listening to their hearts not their pay check (and it’s happening all over the world).
Q: Did you come away with anything that changed the way you do your job? The way you think about food/food and community?
TT: Yes, I came back and within two months flew to San Fran to talk to Alice Waters because school food needs our help and I plan to do my part!
And finally, since Timothy is a chef, we’d be crazy not to include one of his recipes:
8 oz Butter, melted in pan
2 whole onions, minced 2 cups
1/2 cup garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
2 cups country ham, med. diced
1 cup flour
6 cups chicken stock
2 cups corn
2 cups corn puree
1.5 pound Kenny’s Aged Cheddar
3 tablespoons fresh thyme
½ cup red pepper
½ cup yellow pepper
½ cup half & half
White Pepper TT
½ cup green pepper
Put onion, garlic, and peppers in heated butter and sweat
add flour to make white roux, then add chicken stock
Whisk all ingredients together(except thyme,cheese,and 1/2 and1/2)
Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer and add cheese simmer for ten minutes and finish with half and half,fresh thyme
Note: 2 cups of stock and 2 cups of corn blend to make corn puree