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McAtee Community Kitchen now open to train next generation of chefs and serve West Louisville

"It's a passion like I can see myself 20, 30 years in the future still cooking and helping others," student chef at McAtee Community Kitchen, Zyrann Hibbitt said.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Two weeks after David "Ya Ya" McAtee was shot and killed by a Kentucky National Guard member, a community kitchen in downtown Louisville opened its doors Monday to continue his legacy and inspire the next generation of chefs. 

Chef Edward Lee closed his MilkWood restaurant of seven years to turn it into McAtee Community Kitchen on Main Street. The community kitchen will help meet the needs of people in West Louisville in the form of hot meals, groceries, supplies and more. 

Smoked chicken legs and pasta salad were on the menu for the first-ever drop-off.

"Chef Rhodes taught me to use my talent to service others," student chef at McAtee Community Kitchen, Zyrann Hibbitt said. 

Nikkia Rhodes, a culinary director at Iroquois High School, is sharpening her students' skills as the lead chef at the community kitchen.

"The students get to cook, measure, mix, they get to clean and then they get to package as well," Rhodes said. "All while learning how to stay safe in the kitchen especially amid a global pandemic."

Three of Rhodes's students were at the kitchen Monday wearing gloves and masks as they prepared the meals. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays the group will donate 250 meals to families in the Shelby Park, Russell, and California neighborhoods.

"There are so many stories of [McAtee] handing out food for free and taking care of people in his community," Chef Edward Lee said. 

McAtee, a popular barbecue business owner in West Louisville on 26th and Broadway, had acquired property before he was killed to expand his business.

"David McAtee was a chef and I am a chef and I know the importance of what it means to make food and share it with your community," Lee said. "It's really about empowerment and training and finding ways to train young people who cannot afford culinary school."

The community kitchen hopes to partner with Louisville SummerWorks Program to provide paid opportunities for students aspiring to pursue a career in the culinary field.

"It's a passion like I can see myself 20, 30 years in the future still cooking and helping others," Hibbitt said.

To learn more about McAtee Community Kitchen, click here

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