News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Wayside Furniture

Lehmans

Hennes Paynter Communications


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Social Issues




An Akron heart attack survivor lives to cook so others might live
Ms. Julie's Kitchen celebrates its second anniversary this month
by WKSU's VIVIAN GOODMAN
This story is part of a special series.


Reporter
Vivian Goodman
 
Ms. Julie takes a kale pizza out of her oven.
Courtesy of Vivian Goodman
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:
For this week’s Quick Bite, we visit a vegetarian restaurant in Akron whose chef believes she’s saving lives. Welcome to Ms. Julie’s Kitchen.
vegan comfort food in a cosy kitchen

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (7:34)


(Click image for larger view.)

When rocker Chrissie Hynde opened Vegiterranean on Akron’s trendy North Side, she said she just wanted someplace in her hometown where she could get a bowl of rice and beans. Two years ago, shortly before Hynde closed her up-scale restaurant, another Akron native, Julie Costell, opened Ms. Julie’s Kitchen in a run-down part of town. 

Ms. Julie doesn’t offer meat substitutes or gourmet fare… just the food that she believes helped her survive diabetes and a heart attack. 

Ryan Kropf and his girlfriend drove in a snowstorm all the way from South Euclid to Akron’s Firestone Park neighborhood for  lunch at Ms. Julie’s Kitchen. 

He’s not a vegan but he believes in the health benefits of a plant-based diet.  Still, he’ll succumb to an occasional hot dog or hamburger. 

“But I try to minimize it and do the best that I can. I fall to temptation sometimes, but that’s why this feels even better each time I do eat it.” 

For today’s lunch he and his girlfriend ordered potato-leek soup, curried-kale soup, black bean burger and a falafel sandwich. 

“It was excellent. We’re not taking much home, too.” 

LOCALLY-SOURCED FOOD
 

It’s a humble but homey establishment; just a few tables in front of a busy kitchen where Julie does most of the work.  As we enter, she’s tenderly placing turnip leaves on what looks like a hamburger.  

 “They’re locally-grown turnips from Breezy Hill Farm. And greens that I make the burgers from, they’re from Greenfield Berry Farm. They’re Japanese, salad edamame beans like a soybean, but they’re green. Local radishes and fresh local ginger. I love my local farmers. They grow the best stuff!” 

She started out selling her spelt-flour waffles, whole-grain breads and kale chips at farmer’s markets and still does. But as demand grew she needed a storefront and found a modest one on South Main Street. It became more than a kitchen, and more than a restaurant when she started offering groceries and prepared frozen foods to take home. She also gives classes there on vegan cooking and home gardening, hosts movie nights with the Akron Peace Project, and organizes group juice fasts through Facebook. 

Through Facebook Ms. Julie has organized a group juice fast for 52 participants. Julie’s on the juice fast, too, and prefers exotic mixtures.

“Yesterday I had kiwi, cranberry, apple and celery. It was phenomenal!” 

Ms. Julie is equally proud of a creamy yet fat-free potato salad achieved without eggs. Like everything she cooks it’s locally sourced.  

“These are potatoes from Red Basket Farm in Kinsman, Ohio. These are his Yukon Gold potatoes that we use for the potato salad. The onions are from Baker’s Farm. They’re also here local. And we use a grape-seed-oil, vegan mayonnaise and mustard and pickle relish and it’s potato salad. It’s awesome. It’s really good.” 

She also serves customers  who for health reasons need her to cook everything for them, three meals a day.

“ Yeah, people come in all the time and get $100-$200 worth of food for the week. They can just put it in the refrigerator and pop it out for lunch, breakfast.” 

A WHOLE NEW WAY OF COOKING

She sympathizes with  customers who let her cook for them because she, too, once knew nothing about vegan cuisine. 

 “I had to relearn how to cook. My grandma salted ham.” 

Ms. Julie  had been a caterer.
“ Yeah that’s how I got to be 350 pounds. I made a lot of stuff with sugar and cream cheese and white flour. It was very bad, but people thought it was great, and that was what was so sad. And I finally had to quit after I changed my diet. I couldn’t keep perpetuating that. “ 

She’s feeling  fine since her heart attack twelve years ago and she’s 150 pounds lighter. 

Ms. Julie has authored three cookbooks to share the secrets of vegan cooking.   

 “Seasoning, texture, making beans taste like something you want to eat. Making greens into creative ways. Making salads in all different kinds of ways. I’ve probably eaten 5,000 salads. Don’t use white flour. Don’t sauté in oil. I think you should sauté in water. And use ground flax seeds instead of eggs. That’s important. I use one tablespoon of ground flax seeds for every egg. “ 

She doesn’t like meat substitutes, at all.    

“I think it’s fake! I don’t use it. I think it’s creepy. It comes in a bag and it’s frozen and I don’t like it.”   

She likes everything fresh, so she’s always in contact with local farmers. 

Either I go there or they come here. I see them at the farmers markets, and we’re texting back and forth. I’ve already put my orders in with everybody for what I want them to grow and a couple of people are opening extra fields just for us. So that’s exciting. We’re feeding a lot of people and we’re getting ready to feed a lot more. I just got the keys to my second location. So we are staying here on South Main Street and opening a second location on Exchange Street across from the stadium at Akron U.” 

How soon? 

“Well, as soon as I can figure it out.”  

NOT IN IT FOR BREAD ALONE

Her business plan is not to make millions. 

 “I’m not trying to be an upscale vegan restaurant. No, we’re trying to make people healthy, trying to help them figure it out, because there’s just too many of us that are not feeling well and there’s so much we can do for ourselves. No, I want this to be affordable. I want local produce to be affordable. Everybody needs to learn how to eat fruits and vegetables and make them taste good so they’ll eat them.”  

She says 10 years ago, her restaurant might not have succeeded.  

“People are listening. It’s not just the hippie culture. Now it’s real. Men with heart attacks are getting well from eating vegetables.”  

Phil Amerline and his wife drove 53 miles in the snow from Holmes County in search of a healthy lunch. 

“We’ll come maybe three times a week. “ 

He says he can’t find vegan food where he lives. 

“But the other thing we can’t find: the community. There’s just such a feeling when we come in here. Support for each other. Because when you talk to people and you say you’re a vegan, they think that you’re kind of strange and how do you live without meat?”   

He doesn’t miss it at all now that he’s discovered Ms. Julie’s Kitchen. 

 “I’m 62. Most of my friends are taking some kind of medication of some sort.  And I don’t have to.”  

Grateful customers often tell Ms.  Julie how good they feel.  

 “Just recently I had a customer came in and told me he had done nothing but switch his breakfast to my waffles and he lost 20 pounds. I have lots of good stories like that. It’s very gratifying to be helping people feel better.”  

A steady stream of vegans come in from the snow on this Saturday into Julie’s cosy kitchen. She estimates half of her clientele are regulars. 

They’re supporting me, they’re supporting the farmers, they’re supporting themselves, they’re supporting a healthy diet, they’re supporting putting a lower carbon footprint on the planet. It’s a long, rolling, rippling effect that we’re trying to have.” 

Julie Costell, owner and chef of Ms. Julie’s Kitchen in Akron’s Firestone Park. 

Listener Comments:

At first I was confused - is it a vegetarian restaurant or a vegan one? As a vegan, I choose not to consume eggs and dairy, but "vegetarian" signals the presence of these to me. It sounded like it is a vegan place, or perhaps more rightly, "nutritarian," since the chef opts for ingredients as unprocessed as possible. I hope to make it up to Akron to try this restaurant. Thanks!


Posted by: Candice Castle (Minerva, OH) on March 2, 2012 6:03AM
Yay Miss Julie! Congrats on the 2nd location! Love seeing her


Posted by: Rachelle (Cleveland, OH) on March 1, 2012 12:03PM
Julie's creations are amazing~ and she is right on about the multitudes of health benefits.


Posted by: Cindy Dauphin (Green Ohio) on March 1, 2012 10:03AM
Julie's foods are delicious. I look forward to seeing her at the farm markets. I finally made it to Julie's Kitchen and enjoyed a wonderful healthy meal. She is saving lives by providing an example of healthy delicious food.The community she serves is precious.


Posted by: Carolyn Rames (Richfield) on February 29, 2012 11:02AM
I don't think I'd like kale pizza, but have had falafel's when I took a trip to Israel. They were delicious, as was the swarmys - I don't understand why the woman couldn't find "commumity" in Holmes County- there's so many Mennonites there- and most know how to cook so many great dishes- and their cookbooks can be specialized for those with diabetes,etc. You are about 30 miles from Sheffield Lake, so I may check out your place someday. Keep up the good work!
Donna Hastings, R.N.


Posted by: Donna (HastingsDhastings6095@yahoo.com) on February 29, 2012 9:02AM
Excellent story.


Posted by: David B. (Kent, Ohio) on February 29, 2012 5:02AM
Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook






Stories with Recent Comments

Local Ebola concerns cause officials to pay more attention to West Africa
I have a better idea, let's secure our borders and spend those billions of dollars on our own first.

HUD and Cuyahoga Land Bank extend a housing deal for another year
Need to sale lot, and would like to know how to contact someone to see if they may be interested in the property that sat between two lots. If you can give me...

Akron Beacon Journal details abuse claims against televangelist Angley
In the early 90's I went forth for pray. And the man was anointed by the hand of God. Just a fact I will never forget

Lawmaker questions why a million voters didn't get absentee applications
He's a damn lie! I vote n all elections. I missed 1. Haven't gotten my absentee ballot and their making it hard to get one.

Thirsty Dog Brewery warns it might have to leave Akron
Why is it the city's responsibility to find this guy a location? There are a hundred realestate companies that could help him.

Kent State sends home three after contact with second Ebola-stricken nurse
Why weren't all health workers who were around Duncan quaranteened for 21 days and tested for Ebola? That's a no-brainer. Why was Vinson allowed to travel right...

New book says Willoughby Coal is haunted...and that's good for business
Would love to see a series of books that would just thrill me. I cannot wait to visit some of the locations. And revisit some of the locations I have already vi...

Cleveland Indians to continue with 'dynamic pricing'
pricing is too high for a family as well as people like me who are on a fixed income. Bleacher seats are cheaper but concessions are rediculous.

Kasich talks about faith, drugs and education -- but never FitzGerald
The idea that you can learn more by talking to a 90 year old person than from a history book is just another example of how the GOP hates education and knowledg...

Third-grade charter school students fail state testing
A partisan anti-charter group came out with analysis that ODE says is based on incorrect data. So why is this a story? It doesn't seem to rise to WKSU's typic...

Copyright © 2014 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University