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We're Building a Teaching Kitchen in South Chicago!

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JOIN US!

OUR PLATES

HERITAGE COOKING CLASSES

Offering single class options with a variety of topics as well as the A Taste of African Heritage 6-week cooking and nutrition curriculum series will be offered. The ATOAH series is developed by, Oldways, a nonprofit organization helping people rediscover and embrace the healthy, sustainable joys of the “old ways” of shared cultural traditions. Plates On Purpose is licensed and trained to teach the ATOAH curriculum. We like that it celebrates the healthy, vibrant, plant-based food traditions from across the African Diaspora. Participants expand their knowledge of nutrition and learn simple cooking techniques for healthy living based on delicious African Heritage food traditions.  A Taste of African Heritage is now an evidence-based intervention in the SNAP-Ed Toolkit! Our Plates On Purpose classes will also incorporate related discussions topics such as home gardening and canning for a holistic approach to health community eating.

CURATED CULTURAL DINNERS

When the Nia de la Tierra cafe closes, Plates On Purpose will open the doors to culturally and culinarily curious guests for a an intimate private dining experience. We will collaborate with various guests chefs as they creatively curate multi-course pre-fixe menus highlighting ingredients influenced by the African diaspora throughout the world. Dinner will be served at the chef's table, which affords a great view of the action in the open kitchen. As the food is plated, you'll hear about the culture and colorful traditions which inspired the meal. Let your plate take you on a culinary tour like experience that is for learning, as much as it is for celebrating and making memories. The family style dinning, perfect for group sharing and igniting diverse conversations, is available for reservations of groups of 8-12, with two seatings nightly, at 5:30 and 8p. Join Plates On Purpose for this one-of-a-kind dining experience and treat yourself to a special form of community building in South Chicago. 

SHOP MERCH

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OUR STORY

On Purpose.

Plates On Purpose is a 501(c)(3) public charity that celebrates the longstanding historically healthy foodways of the African diaspora and its global influence in modern day communities and culture. We use our teaching kitchen to provide culturally appropriate cooking classes that make space for intergenerational and diverse experiences. We also use curated cultural dinner to bring conversations to the table that move us forward. Plate on Purpose is also proud of the international agricultural service projects in Africa and the Caribbean that truly connect us all.

Established in 2013, by Jessica (Tess) Smith, Plates On Purpose was first organized to provide nutrition education workshops to schools, community centers, and faith based organizations in Chicago. In 2017, Jessica started a personal journey to visit all of 54 countries in Africa. So far she has visited six. Inspired by her travels, she began to read about African foodways and discover ways that those healthy traditional practices and ingredients could be applicable at home.

In 2019, Jessica created the the African Heritage Recipe Challenge. This was a fun initiative to encourage people to cook African inspired recipes only using ingredients available in their community. Jessica used ingredients she had access to her her South Chicago neighborhood. Videos were shared on YouTube and people were encouraged to join the fun. This interactive experience demonstrated how people could connect with food stories of the African diaspora through their plates all while eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

In 2021, Jessica purchased a commercial property that had sat vacant for almost a decade in South Chicago. It would become destined to be the first home of the new Nia de la Tierra Community Cafe. Nia means "Purpose" in Swahili and de la Tierra means "of the land" in Spanish. The cafe will provide access to food and beverages that honor traditional Afro-Latin Foodways and adds value to our current food practices and beliefs. There will also be a space for cooking classes led by Plates On Purpose. We are excited to open the Nia de la Tierra Community Cafe, the Plates On Purpose Teaching Kitchen, and participate in as service projects in South Chicago, Africa, and Haiti.

 

We hope that you will also join us on this amazing journey!

 

SOCIAL MEDIA 

SUPPORT US

Your gift allows us to keep offering affordable cooking classes on a sliding scale. Our goal is ensure classes are accessible to people who live in the community, are intergenerational, and reflect the different socio-economic statuses of our diverse communities.

Plates On Purpose is a 501(c) 3 so all donations are tax deductible.  

Upcoming Events

July 2024
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