Photo Credit: Courtesy of Cooking With Que
Healing Detroit's Underserved Communities Through This Vegan Café
Quiana “Que” Broden is a proud Detroit native through-and-through. Like most Black children in Detroit Public Schools, she was often fed unhealthy foods or left to rely on local corner store options to sustain.
As an adult, she realized that certain foods began to make her ill, to the extent that she ended up in the hospital. That was when she learned she suffered from sarcoidosis, an auto-immune disease that affected nearly her entire body.
“My doctor wanted me to take steroids to treat my condition,” Que Broden told Travel Noire. “In my mind I thought, “why would I take steroids if they are illegal for athletes, to treat my own body.” I knew they would probably do more harm than good.”
Knowing that her options were either take the steroids or heal through changing her diet, Que began researching alternatives. She found that a plant-based diet was the best option for her.
“I literally went cold turkey. After 30 days my chronic cough was gone, and after just 60 days the rashes that I had been suffering from were cleared up. You couldn’t even tell that I had rashes previously.”
Seeing how life changing the power of a plant-based diet was for her, Que made it her mission to bring that same knowledge to her community in Detroit. It all started with her blog, Cooking With Que, where she offered recipes and cooking demos for those wanting better options. She simply wanted to teach and educate people who looked like her, about the things that she had learned in her journey.
As demand grew for Que’s recipes and cooking demos, she knew it was time to take it to the next level. While in a meeting at her job as a mortgage underwriter, she drew out her vision for the space of her dreams on a Post-it note. She carried that piece of paper with her for several years until she was able to bring it to life.
In 2019 she officially opened, Que: The Kitchen, a culinary space in one of Detroit’s historically Black neighborhoods that was also fighting gentrification.
“This is all God,” she said. “God also sent me the perfect team. Our goal is to simply heal people through food. We want them to eat to live.”
The mostly vegan kitchen space serves many functions. By day it’s a cafe that people can come into and order breakfast, brunch, and lunch. In the evenings, Que and her team hosts cooking classes and demos so that people can take the ideas home and recreate them. She also offers affordable meal prep plans that are prepared and delivered straight to her clients’ doors.
Que recently won a $50,000 grant through Detroit’s Demo Day presented by Rocket Mortgage, and is using the money to expand the space to keep up with the growing demand. Her ultimate goal, or “God goal” as she calls it, is to expand this nationally and even collaborate with the FDC one day.
“I believe in everyone being able to get fresh food, especially in underserved and Black communities. It is important for every urban area to have something like this. It is so needed and we deserve to have this in our communities. I’m now giving back to the block that raised me, even with gentrification happening all around us.”
At the end of the day, Que wants to eliminate the excuses for people who look like her and provide easy access to healthy food options. As she tells them, “you can pay for the food, or you can pay for the medications later.”
To check out Que’s recipes and food blog, visit: www.cookingwithque.com. To learn more about the shared culinary space go to: www.thekitchenbycwque.com. You can also find her on Instagram at: @cookingwithque.
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