The LEE Initiative announced McAtee Community Kitchen, opening Monday, June 15 to provide family meals, groceries, supplies, and ongoing opportunities to families in need across Louisville’s West End, Shelby Park, and Russell neighborhoods. Chef Nikkia Rhodes will lead McAtee Community Kitchen, in partnership with the existing efforts of Children Shouldn’t Hunger, an organization aimed at building community and ending youth hunger.
Nikkia Rhodes was a part of the first class of chef mentees for The LEE Initiative’s Women Chefs of Kentucky and is the director of Iroquois High School Culinary Program. “Chef Rhodes has been a strong leader both in and out of the kitchen. She is committed to making her community better and I can’t think of anyone more suited to turn this run this program with passion and drive,” says Chef Edward Lee, co-founder of The LEE Initiative.
McAtee Community Kitchen will not only provide meals but also empower the work of young Black leaders in the culinary space and, with his family’s blessing, will honor the memory of Chef David McAtee. Chef McAtee was a beloved Louisville BBQ chef who devoted his time and his career to helping people in his community. His efforts will serve as the kitchen’s guiding light for this summer program, which will provide ongoing opportunities for community engagement as well as food and supplies.
“Chef McAtee believed in taking care of people, and that showed very clearly through his work in our community. I want that legacy to continue five, 10, 15 years from now. I have always been inspired by chefs like him, who invest back into society around them and that’s what I want to do here. That’s exactly what we plan to do through McAtee Community Kitchen,” says Rhodes.
“In the honor of David McAtee, it’s only right that we create a foundational and truly sustainable future. Food is a vessel in which to enact and create change; while bridging inter-generational, cultural, and socio-economic lines to create a more equal and equitable tomorrow,” says Leo Braddock, founder and executive director of Children Shouldn’t Hunger.
The kitchen will operate out of the former MilkWood restaurant kitchen. After the COVID-19 shutdown, Lee worked with Robert Barry Fleming, the executive artistic director of Actors Theatre, to transform the restaurant into a giving kitchen to serve the community of Louisville. Says Lee of the partnership, “Robert has been an integral partner in this joint community effort and we’re excited to work together.”
The kitchen team at MilkWood will prepare 100 meals packaged for families of four, three days a week. These meals will be available for pickup on a first-come, first-served basis between 4 and 6 pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at Trouble Bar (1149 S Shelby St.), OneWest (2028 West Broadway, Ste. 104), and the California Community Center (1600 St Catherine St.). McAtee Community Kitchen will also provide shelf stable groceries at these pickup locations.
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