“It’s food that’s prepared from the heart that hits your very soul. If you don’t cook from the heart, it isn’t soul food,” says Kim Herring, owner and chef of The Kitchen, when asked what soul food means to her.
“I use different herbs that typically are not used in most soul food recipes. I use rosemary, thyme, things that can be incorporated not only for flavor, but also can do the body good. I use ginger for detoxifying and cumin for inflammation. I try to incorporate things that are heart-healthy. I use fresh ingredients, and I try to prepare the food without a lot of salt. I just want to feed my customers the best wholesome food I can possibly make. I don’t like to use processed food because you don’t know what’s in it – what type of preservatives or chemicals. I try to promote good, healthy food. My food is my soul.”
If you couldn’t tell, Kim has a genuine enthusiastic passion for her cooking and her restaurant. She cooks everything fresh the same day and uses fresh ingredients. There are always daily specials. A few of her specials include sweet Bourbon Chicken, Overloaded Baked Potatoes, Shrimp Linguini and Oxtail with Coconut Rice and Peas. The staples of fried chicken, collard greens, mac and cheese and potato salad are on the menu every day.
“Most of my customers like to have a gravy on the rice or on the meat specials. I make it daily from the baked chicken. My customers love it!”
The Kitchen is located on South Street, west of Liberty Street. Inside, it’s painted a friendly light ochre and the walls are decorated with wooden plaques offering words of encouragement. It feels comfortable and inviting. Directly in front of you, as you walk in, is a large chalkboard written with the daily specials and a counter where you place your order. There are just a few tables on either side of the room for sit-down meals (most of Kim’s customers call ahead for take-out).
“It wasn’t easy starting out on South Street,” Kim explains. “In the beginning days of the restaurant, it was very rough. It was a bit territorial, not very welcoming or inviting. But we got through it. Once the people that had problems with me being here saw that I wasn’t going anywhere, things just changed. This area is considered to be one of the roughest neighborhoods in Newburgh. I am a firm believer that if you plant a seed, it will grow and beautify the area. That’s why I came here and why I am not going anywhere. Just because a neighborhood is bad doesn’t mean something great can’t go in. Sometimes you have to put something in an area that has nothing to draw people to that area. It’s the only way that area will change. I’m at peace here. I know this is where I’m supposed to be.”
132 South Street
Newburgh, NY 12550
Hours: 2-9 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday