At the intersection of positivity, community and eating healthy is Detroit restaurant and culinary business The Kitchen by Cooking with Que. Founded by Quiana “Que” Broden, a renowned chef and entrepreneur, the business specializes in providing vegan and vegetarian meals and promoting healthy, plant-based eating options.
The idea for Cooking with Que was born out of Que’s personal journey of adopting a vegan lifestyle. After facing health challenges, Broden made a conscious decision to change her diet. That’s when she discovered the benefits of plant-based cooking. Inspired by her own transformation, she wanted to share her culinary expertise and create a space where people could enjoy nutritious and satisfying vegan and vegetarian meals.
“American Black Journal” contributor Will Glover, a producer for “One Detroit,” visited The Kitchen to talk with Broden about how she kept her business thriving during the pandemic, how Detroit’s business community helps each other find success, and how her unyielding positivity motivates her desire to bring healthy food to neighborhoods across the country.
Will Glover, Producer, One Detroit: One of the things that I hear a lot about working as a small business owner in Southeast Michigan, in Detroit, is that there is a community of partnership and essentially an ability and a want for people in this business environment to help each other out. Is that something that you’ve experienced when running your business, when getting started, when you come up against an obstacle that you need a solution for? How has the business community in Southeast Michigan, in Detroit, been there?
Quiana Broden, Owner and Executive Chef, The Kitchen by Cooking with Que: I will say that everybody I’ve come in contact with- I don’t know if I’m just blessed to meet the nicest people. People are very caring, they’re very warm welcoming, and they give you information. So if I know I’m trying to do something different that I wouldn’t normally do- I’m not good at no either, so when people say no to me that just means I’m talking to the wrong person. So I will go to people who will help me get the information that I need because I don’t know everything.
But I also think, vice versa, the things that are working for me, I share it with the people that were in my circle. And honestly, the people in Detroit, we’re like open books to each other. Because the thing about it is, what is the purpose of me having this information and die with the information? It’s just going to die with me? Why would I not want to share that?
I’m very big on that and I’m also very big on keeping the circle of people around me- that we’re sharing because we should all win. There’s enough for all of us to win. In my mind, I don’t look at other restaurateurs as competition. I don’t have competition. My competition is- I’m my own competition, not everybody else. We should all be able to win. And if I’m doing something that’s working for me and it makes me successful, why would I not want to tell you so you can be successful too?
Will Glover: How has the development that’s happening down here- how do you feel about it? When it comes to the development, are you excited about it? Are there concerns? Is there any trepidation? Where do you feel like you fit in?
Quiana Broden: I’m always looking at the positive. When I always look at the positive- there is no negative for me because the negative is a waste of energy. So my brain- I’m always looking at my mission, my purpose. If I know who my clients are, how do I market to those customers? When I opened right here on Woodward, it was nobody else. There was a clothing store. It was nothing. This was a block that was not- there was no gentrification. It was like, Que, why would you want to put this right here?
Because my brain said healthy food in every hood. People should not get food based off of their zip code. They should get food because it should be their human right. So my focus is always, how do I make this food more available? So in my mind, just as fast as you see- every time you see a McDonald’s, in my head, in the future, you’re going to see a kitchen because the goal is to put healthy food everywhere.
Because we have to be the people to change the perception of what it is. So I’m very glad that they’re bringing things back to the city. I’m glad that they’re allowing the people that are from the city to actually get these locations as well.
There are different associations that are always pushing for you to support the people who are local, allowed them to get into some of the places. Like, you’ve got the Metro Detroit Black Business Association. They’re always for the small business owner. And that’s a cool backing to have, but again, you make these allies with the people that are going to help you keep growing and you keep building.
So for me, I like the community in the way it is now but I also like that we are getting to see more. But you can’t make your whole business focused on if everybody else is on the block. It’s how am I going to bring clients to my location?
Will Glover: The biggest challenge that Southeast Michigan is facing, a big challenge that Detroit is facing, all metropolitan areas are facing is how do we get millennials and anyone who wants to start a business or anyone who wants to be a part of the workforce to come to Southeast Michigan, to come do it in places like Detroit?
Quiana Broden: So my focus, again, you know it’s going to be my mission and my purpose. But it’s also families. What do people do as a family? What do people do to get back to the table? So my brain wants to do things to bring people here.
So for us, we do cooking classes that you can bring all ages. We have to get people out of their houses and we also have to stop pushing fear on people. You’ve got to think about what people are at home looking at when they’re on the news. You can’t come to Detroit because of this. Yes, we’re changing their perspective of it, but I think people just need to see it’s a really family-oriented place. There’s things for you to do. You can come out to eat at all the restaurants.
Or if you are a person that has that business idea, don’t sit on it, but create programs that have them where they can come and sit with people who are business owners like me. Like, hey, you’ve got a business idea? Let’s sit and work with you on a business plan. Let’s get you from plan A to B to C. What does that look like? And make it more- and it’s not to say that there are not programs like that out there, but I think we need to talk about it more.
As much as we can talk about negative things, if we talk about those types of things, I think it would pique the interest of people that are not here. Not here in Detroit, because you get people from out— I have people that would say, I’m leaving New York to move to Detroit. So you get that, but what about the people that are here?
I’m always saying, look in your own backyard. Look around the City of Detroit, all the places that people are. When people were in the city and they moved to the suburbs and now why do we want them to come back? Put the same amenities that are in the suburbs in the city of Detroit. I shouldn’t have to go to the suburbs to find a healthy grocery store. I’m super excited that they’re bringing more grocery stores to Detroit, but Detroit is large.
We should all have the same accessibility to healthy food. How do I make that? How do I make that become, like, the squeaky wheel gets the oil? I tell people that come to my classes if you don’t open your mouth- closed mouths don’t get fed. If you don’t open your mouth and tell your neighborhood, hey, at every gas station or corner, I want you to stop just giving us chips and cookies. Give us healthy food. Until we make the noise, it’s not going to change.
Subscribe to One Detroit’s YouTube Channel & Don’t miss One Detroit Mondays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. on Detroit Public TV, WTVS-Channel 56.
Watch One Detroit every Monday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m. ET on Detroit Public TV on Detroit Public TV, WTVS-Channel 56.