Food Stuff

Apr 7, 1999 at 12:00 am


The Capuchin Soup Kitchen has a way of bringing people together. On a recent Tuesday afternoon there, a lawyer sat behind a desk, meeting with a client.

"He offers his services for free every month," said Ken Dillard, community affairs coordinator for the Capuchin Soup Kitchen.

Meanwhile, members of West Bloomfield’s Temple Kol Ami were serving Ultimate Chicken Soup to 570 people who came for dinner. The soup recipe, developed by Sandra Biagini of Clarkston, won a contest sponsored by Temple Kol Ami (means "voice of my people" in Hebrew). It was selected from more than 100 entries.

Earlier that day, members of the temple had chopped 120 onions, peeled and diced 180 carrots and 60 turnips, and sliced 180 stalks of celery. They shredded 120 cups of cabbage, then skinned, boned and cut up 60 chicken breasts.

The ingredients were delivered to the Capuchin’s chef, Gregory Bennett, who cooked them in a bathtub-sized pot.

Lee Schottenfels is from the temple’s social action committee. It was the day before Passover, the holiday that celebrates the Jews’ escape from slavery, and one could imagine that Schottenfels was having a busy week. But he said he was glad to have been there.

"It was enlightening and sobering," he commented. "Especially at Passover, it reminded me that freedom is a relative thing, and we’re not that far removed from various types of slavery, poverty being one of the forms that oppression can take."

The Capuchin Soup Kitchen serves three meals a day, six days a week.

"It’s more crowded at the end of the month," said Dillard. "People run out of stamps, and they’re waiting on their checks."

Located in an old MESC office, the dining room, bright with sunshine, feels like a welcoming place.

"Anyone can come here and eat," said Dillard. "We don’t ask any questions."

Chef Bennett is proud that no one is turned away, ever. Dinner that evening was cheeseburgers, pasta salad, juice, a granola bar and a bowl of chicken soup.

The adults at the table where I sat said the soup was very good. The children passed their bowls to their mothers.

Dillard gave me a tour of the kitchen. The soup was simmering in a huge vat, the recipe was posted on the wall. On the counter there was a collection of leftover ingredients, including an almost-empty half-gallon bottle of extra-virgin olive oil. I commented on the quality of the food.

"I wouldn’t serve anything that I wouldn’t eat," said Bennett. "I’m always thinking that it could be me on the other side of the counter."

A moment later Anthony McCurtty, an apprentice chef, interrupted, whispering in Bennett’s ear. He turned to me and said, "Excuse me. We’re running out of hamburgers, and I have to see what else I can make." – Elissa Karg
Call 313-579-2100 to see how you can help.


Feeling taxed? Visit any Einstein Bros. Bagels for a $10.40 EZ lunch for two. The sandwiches, drinks and chips combo is available from now until April 15. Call 800-BAGELME for more info. … You art what you eat at Birmingham’s Creative Resource Gallery. From today until May 8, check out the artistic tribute to fruits and vegetables, created by 10 visual artists, at 162 N. Old Woodward. Call 248-647-3688 for details.