Lubertha ("Bertha") Parker loves to cook. And the one thing she loves doing more than that is cooking for people who need a hot meal.
- by Maurice Singleton
“She has a heart of compassion to feed,” said The King’s Kitchen outreach pastor, Connie Lyons. “She loves cooking. When she heard about The King’s Kitchen, we had just lost our cook. We had to close down for two weeks.
“Bertha came in and gave us structure. She came in from like a mother’s place,” Lyons explained. “Not only does she prepare the food, but she can grocery shop. She can take a little bit of money and make the food stretch. What I like about her is, not only does she cook here, but she helps RetroFit and other non-profits. Her first priority is to feed those who need a meal.”
Lyons said that Parker takes pride in preparing a four-course meal, which includes a meat, two vegetables, bread, a salad, and a dessert. Ms. Bertha elevated the quality of the food drastically. “We were doing red beans and rice, no sausage,” said Lyons.
“She strategically picked her people,” added Lyons. “She said, ‘An angry cook will send out angry food. I want people who have a love for the community just like I have a love for the community.’” Lyons added that if a dish doesn’t come out of the kitchen “Grade A,” Parker refuses to serve it to patrons and sends it back to the kitchen.
Parker said that her inspiration comes from her parents and grandparents, who were all cooks. “It runs in my family really deep,” she explained. “I’m the baby of nine children. I have a huge family. My mom and dad both used their cooking skills to bring families together. That got deeply imbedded in me as a child.”
Parker said that she could never cook a small amount of food. Even when she cooks for herself and her two children, she always cooks a lot. She said that skill to cook a lot of food is a “gift from God.”
“I always had a passion to cook a lot,” said Parker. “That passion to cook so much is what it’s all about. That’s the gift that God gave me. He wants me to cook for a lot of people. He gave me the gift to feed the community, to be bring communities back together, to bring families back together, especially when it’s cooked with the main ingredient: love.”
That main ingredient has been drawing more and more people to The King’s Kitchen. This past Thanksgiving and Christmas, the count rose to 330 people who enjoyed the love coming from the kitchen headed by Parker. “A lot of people came out to pitch in during the holidays,” said Parker. “It was just awesome.”
Parker said that showing love to the people working alongside of her in the kitchen is the key to the growth in the number of the people served at The King’s Kitchen. “I can’t do it all alone,” said Parker. “It’s a team, and the team works. Showing those people that they have a major value in that kitchen, that lifts their spirits, to not just come back again and volunteer, but it becomes like a job.
“Giving back to my community is my main priority,” said Parker. “No, I wasn’t born and raised in Bay St. Louis, but from the time I first stepped over here, it feels like home. God has made this my home. I love it here.”
Parker volunteers at The King’s Kitchen two or three days each week. She is the proprietor of Big Bertha’s Kitchen and Catering Service, LLC. After doing course work for a culinary certificate, she satisfied her externship during her time at The King’s Kitchen.
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