Here & There: Herb Garden Helps Feed the Poor

| December/January 2007

  • Chef Timothy Tucker serves fresh herbs and healthy dishes at the Salvation Army Center of Hope in Louisville, Kentucky.
    Photo by Suzanne Hall
  • Chef Tucker serves turkey roll with Oven-Roasted Herbed Tomatoes and Sage Gravy.
    Photo by Suzanne Hall

Chef Timothy Tucker's Herbal Recipes: 

• Oven-Roasted Herbed Tomatoes
• Garlic and Lemon Thyme Mashed Potatoes
• Cauliflower Casserole
• Sage Gravy 

To Chef Timothy Tucker, there’s more to feeding the poor than filling their stomachs. “Food is what makes people healthy or sick, feel good or feel bad. Good food can change people’s lives,” he says.

And to Tucker, good food includes herbs. One of the first things he did after signing on as chef at the Salvation Army’s Center of Hope in Louisville, Kentucky, in January 2005, was start an herb garden. “We had the space and since herbs fit right in with my concept of healthful cooking, I decided to give it a try,” he says. Since then, the garden has flourished and now provides the center’s kitchen with about a dozen fresh herbs, plus hot peppers and tomatoes.

Getting Into Giving

Tucker has worked hard for his chef credentials: After earning a culinary degree from Sullivan University in Louisville, he worked in restaurants around the country, including Dean Fearing’s well-known Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas. He eventually made his way back to Louisville. When he learned that the Center of Hope, which provides shelter for about 200 people a night and meals for 300 to 400 each day, was looking for a cook, he “threw on an old jacket and went to eat there,” he says. “They fed me two precooked biscuits and some sour-tasting clam chowder. That was it. I knew I had to work there and try to help people by feeding them healthful, good-tasting food.”

Like most cooks who feed the poor and homeless, Tucker relies mainly on donated food. “About 90 percent of our food is donated. We’re lucky to have alliances with Whole Foods and other natural foods producers so we get a lot fresh fruits and vegetables, but it’s always a grab bag. We never know what we are going to get,” he says.

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