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Photos by Sarah Finnegan.
Johnny Rocket Salad.
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Photos by Sarah Finnegan.
Chef Kimberly McNair Brock with REV Birmingham’s Director of Business Growth Deon Gordon at the REVeal Kitchen Meet and Greet on June 28 at Pizitz Residences.
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Photos by Sarah Finnegan.
Bitty’s Living Kitchen’s mushroom “ceviche” lettuce wraps.
Reveal Kitchen’s newest tenant, Bitty’s Living Kitchen, is freshening up the food scene this month at the Pizitz Food Hall.
As a child, Bitty’s Living Kitchen chef and owner Kimberly McNair Brock used to sit in her high chair, entranced by Julia Child cooking shows. At 4 years old, when she got sick of cereal, she decided making eggs for her and her sister was easily in her abilities — and it was. Fast forward past her graduation from Auburn University and her time at her family’s business, and now this Birmingham native is back to pursuing her passion from the beginning: cultivating delicious food.
She attended culinary school at Johnson & Wales in Denver and in 2002 began her own catering and food service, Bitty’s Back Porch, described as “fine cuisine with Southern charm.”
After moving back home to Birmingham last year and taking care of her family for several months, Brock was shocked by the impact that cooking with only fresh foods had on her family. Her mother even reduced the use of her diabetes medicine. “Not that they were eating poorly, but that they had a hard time with it,” she said. “They weren’t really eating balanced meals, so I just started roasting a lot of veggies and cooking a lot more from local farms. I’d go to farmers markets and buy produce.”
That’s what inspired Brock to do some rebranding at the beginning of 2017. As the next Reveal Kitchen tenant, Bitty’s Living Kitchen will be moving in to the spot formerly filled by Tropicaleo and shifting the focus to meals and snacks made from raw, locally-sourced fruits and vegetables. Her emphasis is on eliminating preservatives, GMOs and unhealthy food options.
“I believe that everyone should eat a living meal a day,” she said, meaning whole foods without processed materials. “People heal themselves through food.”
Reveal Kitchen is a rotating program through REV Birmingham and Create Birmingham, in which restaurant startups have the opportunity to sell their food at the popular Pizitz Food Hall and work with REV’s business consulting team on their business model and securing finances and other resources needed to sustain their business once their time at Reveal is up. The rotating tenant stays for four to six months.
Brock said she thinks Bitty’s Living Kitchen — which sports the catchphrase “fresh, healthy, delicious”— will be filling a gap that exists in the Pizitz Food Hall. So far, Brock has graduated from Create Birmingham’s CO.STARTERS program and has been testing her Bitty’s Living Food at popup events such as Woodlawn Street Market and through catering. The feedback, she said, has been extremely positive.
“A lot of people get busy and find it hard to cook fresh meals for their families, but believe me, there is a way to do that — to eat simply and quickly,” Brock said.
This mentality is a crucial part of Bitty’s Living Kitchen’s teaching model, and Brock said she eventually wants to offer cooking classes that teach people how to eat better in an efficient way.
Deon Gordon, REV Birmingham’s director of business growth, said Reveal Kitchen has been a successful community effort since the beginning, and he’s excited to see the second tenant move in.
“Everyone really just kind of buys into the vision that Birmingham is vibrant and thriving, and [this program] allows us to work toward our mission to create sustainable businesses,” Gordon said. “We want customers to build right along the entrepreneurs, that’s why we open these doors for them.”
Brock’s long-term goal is to have her own brick-and-mortar restaurant. Until then, she’s excited to work in the Pizitz Food Hall.
Brock said her menu is going to be seasonal and will depend on the availability of local items from farmers. All the food for Bitty’s Living Kitchen is sourced through the Urban Food Project, a REV Birmingham initiative that works to booster the local food economy in Birmingham through a more accessible delivery system between local farmers and Birmingham residents in food desert areas.
The breakfast menu, Brock said, will include a variety of juices, including her popular, fresh pressed “Pinky Swear,” which consists of Chioggia Candy Stripe beets, pineapple, ginger and limes. Various granolas will also be sold in the morning, and they are planning on test serving a gluten-free alternative to avocado toast.
For lunch, there will be seasonal salads, with one of the most popular summer options being the Johnny Rocket Salad, which includes Bitty’s signature ancho chile sherry vinaigrette, baby arugula, grilled purple onions, roasted corn, plum tomatoes, avocado, roasted chicken and occasionally bacon.
“We weren’t planning on having pork on the menu, but we had the bacon from Fudge Farm on the salad and that was really a big hit, so we might provide that as an option going forward,” Brock said.
Brock added that they will more than likely be open for dinner as well to provide easy, healthy options for people who might not always have the time or energy to cook in the evening.
“We want to have food available for people to grab and go. If they wanted to place a catering order for lunch or if they wanted to take food home in the evening, it’s something we want them to be able to do,” Brock said.
Since Bitty’s Back Porch’s beginning more than a decade ago, Brock said she already has a definite following of people who love her Southern favorites. But her most important initiative is still going to be educating people on how the attention to freshness and detail can make all the difference in day-to-day life.
“When you eat better, you just feel better — because you’re eating real food,” she said.
To learn more about Bitty’s Living Kitchen, go to its Facebook page, Bitty’s Living Kitchen.