GARFIELD PARK — Baker Maya-Camille Broussard knows how the emotional scars from unmet basic needs can pass on from generation to generation. Her father was a successful defense attorney, but he grew up hungry in a housing project on the Near West Side.
That’s why Broussard, who owns Justice of the Pies, launched cooking classes for the community to educate kids on budgeting, shopping and cooking so they can stretch a dollar to help feed their families through tough times. Now, with a growing need because of the coronavirus pandemic, she’s taking her cooking classes online.
Broussard’s social enterprise bakery, based out of the the Hatchery Chicago, 135 N. Kedzie Ave., was set to host a series of I Knead Love culinary workshops with help from Northwestern University and the Black Law Students Association. But the statewide stay at home order caused her to cancel the hands-on classes.
But with so many young people stuck at home right now, Broussard decided to move the classes to social media instead. The videos will be posted on the bakery’s Instagram (@justiceofthepies) and will also be sent to kids who signed up for the canceled workshops.
“I decided to just set up my cameras in my kitchen and start teaching the lesson plans that I have prepared for this particular workshop,” she said. “So that I could give the kids something to connect with in terms of food, but also so I can stay connected with my community.”
The first workshop video will showcase one of Broussard’s favorite quick, easy and cheap meal hacks that can be whipped up for breakfast, lunch or an afternoon snack: smoothies. In future videos, she will teach people how to make a simple and nutritious sundried tomato pasta, crowd-pleasing meals like pancakes, and will also take on more challenging recipes like pies and quiches.
Broussard is also filming a Test Kitchen series live on her Instagram, which features her experimenting with different baked goods suggested by her followers. Recent Test Kitchen video showed her baking lemon, lavender and rose biscuits. To keep young people engaged, she is also doing a baking series inspired by colorful varieties of the Nike AirMax sneakers— a red and gold shoe provided inspiration for a recent tutorial on baking a black pepper strawberry galette.
“I wanted to encourage the kids to be creative in the kitchen and focusing on sneakers as the inspiration for meals was perfect because it’s genderless,” she said.
Justice of the Pies is also delivering meals to the nurses, doctors and interns working on the front lines to fight coronavirus at Stroger Hospital. Neighbors can donate to the project by sponsoring a meal for a health care worker for $10.
Broussard said late father Stephen Broussard’s upbringing — and the emotional trauma he experienced — inspired her to open Justice of the Pies and to help the community on the West Side.
Broussard’s dad died in 2009, and she opened the bakery in 2014. The business honors his love of baking while also addressing the food insecurity he struggled with by empowering families to make their own food.
“The emotional trauma of growing up with those food insecurities was very evident, and it trickled down to me. It really affected the way that we ate food in the house when I was growing up,” Broussard said. “There is this fear. Yes, I have food now, but will it ever disappear?”
Pascal Sabino is a Report for America corps member covering Austin, North Lawndale and Garfield Park for Block Club Chicago.
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