For its third season, Cooking in America is in Detroit, and host Sheldon Simeon makes his first stop at the Midwest Buddhist Meditation Center in Warren, MI. The was temple established in 1995 as the first Buddhist center in the Detroit area.
Phenwipha (Pat) Nelson, a waitress by day who doubles as a volunteer chef at the Center, walks Simeon through some of the dishes she cooks up at the Center’s bimonthly outdoor food market. Nelson learned how to cook both from her mother and from culinary school training in Thailand. Her pad krapow, a dish she grew up eating in Bangkok, is a favorite among the Center’s Sunday market crowd, and she makes it two ways for Simeon — with pork and with seafood (the latter version contains a big hit of spice).
The Center was established to let anyone, Buddhist or not, come and meditate and build. Lawan Chandruang is one of the co-founders and has seen the city wax and wane throughout the decades, but she’ll never leave. “The temple,” she says, “is my home.”