Urban Ecology Center in Milwaukee Host Free Healthy Cooking Community Demonstrations

Cooking Affordably

Everyone likes a good homecooked meal but that’s not always possible. Sometimes it’s because we don’t have the right recipes or maybe it’s because a meal is too expensive. To inspire and educate the Milwaukee community, the Urban Ecology Center (UEC) at Washington Park is hosting free healthy cooking demonstrations for families.

The workshops have been going on for four years and have transitioned from in-person to virtual due to the pandemic. Usually, the workshops are held at Washington Park and up to 20 community members can participate. Now you can watch from wherever you feel comfortable. The plan is to eventually return to in-person workshops.

“It’s really an opportunity to build community,” said UEC Branch Manager Terry Evans. He said it’s also about showing people how to make low-cost healthy meals for their families.

Sam Alioto taught an Urban Ecology Center workshop on March 9, 2022.
Sam Alioto taught a UEC workshop on March 9, 2022. (Picture by Liyah Sumners/Carvd N Stone)

UEC depends on local chefs and those who love to cook to volunteer their time and skills.

“It’s community-driven,” Evans said.

There will be five healthy cooking community demonstrations in 2022. The first virtual workshop was held on March 9, 2022, and was taught by Sam Alioto who’s been cooking since a child.

Alioto did a demonstration on how to make creamy polenta grits with sautéed kale. According to the description, this dish is simple and packed with flavors, and the kale provides a great balance for the creamy polenta. He chose this dish for its affordability and because of his love for grits.

“[Grits] are dynamic. You can get them in Italy and you can get them in the south,” Alioto said.

The Food System

Alioto is a bigger believer in knowing where one’s food comes from. His passion for food has led him on a mission to get people back to cooking their own food.

“I truly believe our food system is broken. We are so disconnected from locally raised food. It’s good for your health to have fresh food.”

– Sam Alioto

He wants people to know that you can cook affordable meals without losing the restaurant’s quality.

As a self-taught cook, Alioto is the Head Chef at Tiny Greens Trees Nature-Based Childcare and Forest School. He understands people can be scared of cooking but that’s why people like him are around to help and encourage.

“Cooking food is not only fun but we can live our lives just thinking about our next meal,” said Alioto.

Monthly Sessions

Each month, from March through July, a new chef will host a demonstration. The dishes range from fish to vegan and even desserts. The next UEC healthy cooking demonstration will be held virtually on April 13, 2022, starting at 5 p.m. CST. Lyncoya Llion will be leading the workshop and she will be teaching students how to make Tuscan salmon and pasta.

To sign up for the UEC workshop, click here

Nyesha Stone founded Carvd N Stone in 2017 to cover positive news while attending the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Stone has a B.A. in Journalism. She has raised over $30,000 to award grants and scholarships. She has also been featured in ESSENCE and worked with the American Black Film Festival.

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