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LA Kitchen - One Year of resisterhoodLA


February 2018


Volunteers work alongside a team of The L.A. Kitchen chefs, kitchen staff, and alumni or students from our Empower Program (a culinary job ­training program for young men and women aging out of foster care and older men and women transitioning out of incarceration) to prepare reclaimed fruits and vegetables that will be transformed into nutritious meals and snacks for charitable partners that serve Los Angeles’ aging, low­ income, and homeless populations.


There are few things I love more than subjecting people to my Instagram stories of how I make my meals. One of those few things is getting other people to love cooking as much as I do! So I rallied the resisterhoodLA troops to pair up with one of our favorite organizations: L.A. Kitchen!


We volunteered at L.A. Kitchen a full year ago as a group, so it felt fitting to spend our 1-year anniversary there. L.A. Kitchen is an incredible organization not only in what they do, but how many different ways they accomplish their mission: “that neither food nor people should ever go to waste.” Their Strong Food program salvages imperfect produce that would otherwise be discarded to reduce food waste, and repurposes it to sell meals, creating jobs. Their Empower L.A. program teaches culinary job training to students who were either formerly incarcerated, homeless, or ex foster care. Those students help prep the meals that Impact L.A. donates to service agencies that assist the community. L.A. Kitchen is a well-oiled machine of giving back, and it’s always inspiring to be able to help them.


I spent a long time preparing fun social media graphics and thinking of clever food puns to promote this event, and we promoted it for about two seconds before registration was completely full. It’s the only reason I could possibly be thrilled about not sharing “let’s go on a chopping spree!” with everyone. I am floored with how many people showed interest and showed up for this event!


One of the reasons I love volunteering with L.A. Kitchen is how easy they make it. They teach you some techniques for knife safety, provide you with an apron and hairnet (hygiene is sexier than any hair-do), and give you all the tools you need to make volunteering efficient and fun. I also love that you get to visit with the Empower L.A. students while you’re meal prepping. Nothing brings people together like correctly learning to chop a bell pepper.


We chopped vegetables for two menus: Chicken Curry with Vegetables, and Chicken Caesar Salad. Those meals were sent to a number of organizations, including LA Family Housing, The Salvation Army, and The New Wave Senior Center.


I feel like every time I’m at L.A. Kitchen, I learn something I didn’t know before (even though I am a self-taught expert on all culinary skills, don’t @ me). This time, it was how to de-seed and chop a bell pepper. Last time, it was a quicker way to chop an onion. These things sound simple, but when you’re a prep cook in a kitchen, you have to do things at break-neck speed without chopping off all your fingers (which I also know a good method for).


We had a great morning, and we finished chopping everything before our volunteer time was up! Not only did we help L.A. Kitchen with meal prep, but we also were able to make a $150 donation to the organization as a result of our Valentine’s Pop-Up Shop at MUSE in Studio City earlier this month, and my birthday fundraiser. And after the event, we celebrated our year’s work with cupcakes and some Martinelli’s (we’re not sponsored by them, but does anyone know who can make that happen?). Overall, the best way to celebrate new beginnings.


If you’re interested in volunteering at L.A. Kitchen, check out their website:

Contributed by Michelle Leibel, Comedy Writer and February event organizer

You can find Michelle on instagram + twitter.

L.A. Kitchen believes that neither food nor people should ever go to waste. By reclaiming healthy, local food that would otherwise be discarded, training men and women who are unemployed for jobs, and providing healthy meals to fellow citizens, L.A. Kitchen empowers, nourishes, and engages the community.

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