With a popular blog and The Kitchen, her new-in-2019 restaurant and culinary education space, vegan chef Quiana 'Que' Broden is on a mission to get people to 'eat to live.'
Quiana “Que” Broden makes no bones about it – her transition into a vegan from a meat-eater was “absolutely horrible!”
When the Detroit native and chef to-be was diagnosed with sarcoidosis and a dairy allergy four years ago, she found herself facing a major lifestyle change. Switching to vegan cuisine spared her from taking harsh medications, but she admits she had no idea how to do it correctly.
“I didn’t become a vegan because I wanted to,” Broden says. “I did it because I had to. I quit cold turkey for my diagnosis, and I can’t lie – it was hard. I had to totally revisit the way I thought about food and nutrition.”
The key, she says, is rewriting everything we were told about healthy eating.
“We were taught to hate veggies, and we think we grow out of that, but we don’t,” Broden says. “We get older and make stuff the same nasty way we’ve been eating it.”
Learning and spreading the word
Broden’s culinary journey inspired her to begin blogging about her experiences starting back in 2015. Cooking with Que quickly gained popularity as an online hub for anecdotes, recipes, advice and inspiration centered around vegan food.
“Cooking with Que is a place where vegans and meat eaters can coexist,” Broden says. “It’s for everybody, and it doesn’t take as much effort as people think it does.”
And, by late May of 2019, Broden’s next big phase will be in full swing: She’s opening her own restaurant and culinary education space, called The Kitchen. It’s located at 6529 Woodward Ave. in Detroit.
The 40-year-old mother of two – who’s also been featured in cooking segments locally on FOX 2 – credits her success to hard work, determination, self-esteem and, above all, her faith.
“God is above everything for me,” says Broden. “That’s always first. There were setbacks every day. Everybody is so hyper competitive, and nobody wants to share knowledge. But I just had to power through it and learn everything I didn’t know.”
Reaching a food breakthrough moment
Broden says that her family is very supportive now. But back when she first made the switch, she says they were “super confused.”
“My family is from down South, you know?” says Broden. “I had to go from greens and chicken and deep-fried everything. People used to say to me, ‘Que, oh my God, you’re going to die! You need meat!’ And when I’d make dishes, I’d get the stink eye.”
Her epiphany came, she says, when she realized that fruits and vegetables had their own flavor that didn’t need to be covered up.
“I realized, I didn’t miss the chicken, I missed the spiciness and the fried taste. And if you do it right, you can fry cauliflower and make it taste just like that wing, or better, without a bunch of salt and fat and lord knows what,” Broden says.
Broden admits that she wasn’t a perfect vegan in the beginning and that it took a lot of trial and error for her to be where she is now.
“Don’t get it twisted: You can be a vegan and still eat trash,” Broden says. “You have to ask yourself two things before you eat something – how long did it take to reach your fork, and what happened to it before it got there? Eating to live, not living to eat.”
The mission of The Kitchen
“Eat to live” is a motto that Broden and her foundation want to bring to Metro Detroit through The Kitchen, starting with the littlest chefs, alongside Broden’s “70-30” method to creating a perfectly balanced plate.
As of May 2019, her Eat to Live Foundation is running a campaign to secure the last bit of funding for The Kitchen. Once it opens, Broden plans to start using it to teach Detroit Public Schools students of all grade levels about delicious, healthy eating.
“I had an investor walk out on me, but that won’t stop me at all,” Broden says. “We’re trying to make a healthier Detroit from the roots. Beyond that, I’d bet you could Google ‘black woman female chef’ for any major network and you wouldn’t get any result. That’s what I’m trying to be.”
For any budding chefs or young African-American kids striving for what inspires them, Broden’s best piece of advice is this: “If you’re going to fall, fall forward.”
She says, “Bet on yourself, and give 200 percent.”
Visit The Kitchen’s GoFundMe page to contribute to the cause.