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When the neighborhood’s last full-service grocery store, an Aldi, shuttered in 2008, Avondale became what is often referred to as a food desert, an area where fresh, whole foods are incredibly scarce—or completely unavailable. Fortunately for residents, Gabriel’s Place, housed in the former St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal parish on Reading Road, serves the community both mind and body. An eight-week summer Junior Chef program, led by resident chef and Midwest Culinary Institute graduate Kristen St. Clair, exposes teens to various professional opportunities in the culinary field while building a strong work ethic and appreciation for where food comes from. The campus features a main building, as well as extensive gardens that include an aquaponic system and a hoop house. Fledgling fruit trees will eventually provide apples and pears. This produce is sold at a Thursday evening community market or used for the Share-A-Meal program, a weekly sit-down dinner on Tuesday nights. All programs offered at Gabriel’s Place are open to any Cincinnatian and strive to offer an authentic community experience, regardless of social class, creed, or neighborhood. “Just because you live in a low-income neighborhood shouldn’t preclude you from special food experiences,” says executive director Myrita E. Craig. “We like to say this is the best restaurant in Avondale.”
Gabriel’s Place, 3618 Reading Rd., Avondale, (513) 221-2306, gabrielsplace.diosohio.org
Originally published in the June 2014 Issue