Every Sunday at 6 p.m., Grace Barden’s home smells like a dream. Her kitchen fills with the scents of delicious couscous, fresh apple pie or gooey chocolate cake. Her sweet personality fills every baked good and it all happens live for over 500 people to see on her Instagram story. However, for Barden, it’s about so much more than giving away her concoctions on Instagram: “My cooking gives people hope and love.”
“Our first ever show was just so random…I got the inspiration because our house has so many leftovers… I decided to make homemade ramen using random objects in my fridge.” 27 weeks, recipes and Cooking with Grace episodes later, she’s still stirring up generosity just a few blocks from campus.
Barden is a senior Montessori and special education double major who took a class called “Community and Advocacy.” Her assignment was to give back to the Xavier community. Barden said that when she arrived on campus as a first-year* hailing all the way from Texas* she felt lonely. What she missed most was a home cooked meal. Now, Barden is ensuring that no one goes hungry on a Sunday night.
“When I cook, I’m in my happy place, but when I give, I feel so much more love than they do.”
“People think that if you go to Xavier that you instantly have money to pay for food, and that’s not true. People that do need food on Xavier’s campus are ashamed to reach out.” Barden says that anyone who needs food will get it “no matter if our giveaways have already maxed out. If there’s someone who needs food, we never say no.”
Barden started cooking at Xavier when she moved into a house with a fabulous kitchen just off campus. Her housemates, especially her manager, junior Occupational Therapist major, Lexi Suttner, have supported her through it all.
“I loved cooking because I loved seeing people’s faces when they would try my food because it is like I am giving them a little part of my life, and I’m also inspiring them to cook … For me to make your day is so much bigger than for me just to give you a piece of bread.”
The enthusiasm has yet to stop. With hundreds swiping up on her Instagram stories each week hoping to taste the giveaway, Barden feels the show is a great success.
“It has been successful just because of our fans… if people didn’t say I inspired them or I gave them hope to try a new recipe or I helped feed them for a meal, I think we would have been done by September.”
Despite all the hard work, finances and time sacrificed, Grace feels as though she receives when she gives. “When they express that gratitude to me, all my worries in the world, like if I missed an ingredient or if I did anything wrong in that whole entire week, that one statement, ‘Grace thank you so much, you fed me, I didn’t know if I was going to have enough food to get me through this week and you just gave me a meal,’ it changes my life. It gives me gratitude.”
Barden will stay at Xavier for her Master’s, so the fun isn’t over just yet. Although the show’s production may slow down to once a month, all her old recipes and videos can be found on her YouTube and Instagram.
Cooking with Grace gives students the opportunity for a chance to win a home cooked meal every Sunday on her Instagram, @gracebarden.
By: Brittany Wells | Staff Writer