NewsState News


Po' Brothers brings cajun flavor, aims to defeat Knob Hill stereotypes

'This is the place I feel pride in; so, why would I put it down or try to run from it?'
Posted at 6:40 AM, Oct 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-02 10:16:53-04

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Cooking in the Army, graduating from The Culinary Institute of America (CIA), working as a chef at The Broadmoor — Tom Gillispie said nothing has been better than his latest kitchen endeavor of working the line alongside his wife and six kids at his mobile restaurant, Po' Brothers.

"He's not gonna tell you; so I will ... don't let the white boy fool you. He can cook," said Sylvia Gillispie about her husband's talents.

Tom's journey with food began when he was just 14-years-old. He worked as a cashier at a McDonald's, quickly making his way to a family restaurant where, just two years later, he moved up the food chain to line cook.

"I knew right then, I didn't wanna turn back," said Tom.

He was eventually deployed for two tours in Iraq with the U.S. Army where he spent time cooking alongside soldiers from the U.S.' southern states.

"We ended up really shining in Iraq and making things happen from nothing," said Tom, "down to opening up ketchup packets to make barbeque sauce."

He explained that this kind of resourcefulness is rooted in Cajun cooking culture.

"Southern cuisine, it was the scraps; products that people didn't want to use and other people picked up and they used them. They made them flavorful [and] tender," said Tom.

Born from necessity, using unwanted elements and all pieces of raw ingredients is a part of Cajun culture's history with poverty, an element, the Gillispies said, the food still serves in Knob Hill.

"We aren't the richest community, but we're a community ... That's who supported us," said Sylvia.

Sylvia explained that it was poor communities that turned many of these discarded parts of food into some of today's most well-known dishes.

"We did that, the poor people did and made it into something wonderful," said Sylvia.

Tom said he wants to provide food to the families of the Knob Hill community that is both affordable and nutritious. He said the family also hopes to undo common misconceptions and untrue stereotypes about surrounding crime and violence in the southeast part of Colorado Springs by attracting the attention of people from outside of the region.

"Every place has its flaws, but overall, it's pretty nice down here," said Thomas Gillispie, Tom's son.

The family spoke about the area's sense of community support and said they have only experienced the touch of a lending hand.

"This is the place I feel pride in; so, why would I put it down or try to run from it," said Jasmine Ellison, Tom's stepdaughter, who referred to her stepfather as the "best dad she has ever had."

Tom hopes to keep Cajun history and flavors alive in Southern Colorado, describing his cooking as "very rewarding."

Po' Brothers can be found at 1826 E. Platte Ave. Colorado Springs, CO 80909, directly behind The Yellow King Games and Hobbies.

Watch KOAA News5 on your time, anytime with our free streaming app available for your Roku, FireTV, AppleTV and Android TV. Just search KOAA News5, download and start watching.