Bill Bracken picked up a spoon to stir a pot of stew.
"This was made completely from scratch," he said, pointing to pieces of chicken, zucchini and bok choy. "It's full of vegetables, it's low-fat, low-calories, low-sugar — nothing processed at all. I made it yesterday. We let it set for 24 hours to really set the flavors and we'll heat it up later."
Bracken spent 25 years cooking at five-star luxury hotels for customers such as actor Sylvester Stallone and Hollywood filmmaker Ron Howard.
But today, he serves a different clientele.
The chef and founder of the Huntington Beach-based nonprofit Bracken's Kitchen prepares more than 1,500 healthy meals each week for local homeless and needy families in what he sees as a new, chef-driven model combating food insecurity.
"America's hunger relief programs have been built on the warehouse model of food banks and handing out boxes of food," he said. "While it was great for many years, I believe very strongly that it's time to change that."
"Feeding people is not the same as nourishing them."
Bracken started cooking at age 12, and after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, he landed his first job at the Four Seasons Hotel in Dallas.