NYC Chefs Working As Food Relief Workers

by Deirdre Appel

On March 15th, NYC’s restaurants closed their doors to all but take-out and delivery service. Many restaurants pivoted to making the most profits out of their delivery orders, assembling packages of their ingredients for customers to their meals cooked at home, or even temporarily donning the role of a small grocery store to sell products like olive oil, canned tomatoes and other pantry staples. As phase 2 of our city’s reopening begins and chefs go back to work serving customers dining al fresco, the Hunter College of NYC Food Policy Center would like to bring attention to some of those who hung up their chef’s toques for food relief workers’ aprons in order to ensure that other New Yorkers – whether they were working on the frontlines or furloughed from their kitchens – didn’t go hungry.  These chefs are help with New York City’s food relief efforts during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Greg Braxtom
Where He Works: Olmstead
What He’s Doing: At the onset of COVID-19, Braxton was forced to lay off his entire 60 person staff. Today he has managed to transform his once coveted restaurant space into a food bank, providing meals for out of work restaurant employees. Partnering with Lee’s Initiative’s Restaurant Reboot Relief Program, which turns restaurants in NYC and across the country into relief centers, Olmstead now operates as a food bank, with free pick-up packages–including things like smoked pork from Hometown BBQ, fresh bread, toothbrushes, toilet paper, and even baby food–available to restaurant workers who have lost their jobs.
How To Learn More: Here

Luca Di Pietro
Where He Works: Tarallucci e Vino
What He’s Doing: The NYC Italian chain, Tarrallucci e Vino, started the Feed the Frontlines initiative, which  finds generous contributors who buy meals from restaurants around the city to be delivered to first responders. To date, Feed the Frontlines NYC has delivered more than 100,000 nourishing meals to healthcare workers battling the virus while also enabling 18 restaurants to keep their lights on and bring more than 100 employees back to work.
How To Learn More: Here

Ayala Donchin
Where She Works: Evelyn’s Kitchen
What She’s Doing: On weekends, Donchin uses her kitchen to make reheatable and/or freezable meals that are delivered in 28-ounce individual containers  to hospital workers by ParentHood Together and to children and families through a partnership with Deandre Jordan of the Brooklyn Nets.
How To Learn More: Here  

Daniel Dorado and Nasser Jabber
Where They Work: The Migrant Kitchen
What They’re Doing: The Migrant Kitchen is collecting donations to ensure that frontline healthcare workers in New York City’s COVID-19 units are receiving hot meals to help sustain them in their battle and to provide food security to New Yorkers affected by this current crisis. The team is actively partnering with community leaders to support those that most require assistance. Working together, they have moved beyond their original goal of delivering at least 1,000 meals a day and have now hit their 50K goal.
How To Learn More: Here

Marc Forgione
Where He Works: Marc Forgione
What He’s Doing: Chef and restaurateur Marc Forgione says, “ I have more free time now obviously so I decided to cook for the hospital workers with some of my sous chefs a couple of times a week.  They’re all on the front lines and working so hard so we’re obviously so happy to thank them in our way by cooking for them.”  He has partnered with Taste of Tribeca, which, under normal circumstances, raises funds for two neighborhood public elementary schools but is now raising funds to support the neighborhood’s struggling restaurants and medical professionals, to distribute these meals to hospital workers.
How To Learn More: Here

Chef Daniel Humm
Where He Works: Eleven Madison Park
What He’s Doing: Chef Daniel Humm has teamed up with Rethink Food NYC , an organization taking over closed restaurant kitchens in an effort to provide food for as many of those in need as possible, and is leading his team at Eleven Madison Park on a mission to cook meals for New Yorkers and healthcare workers in need. With soup kitchens across the city unable to meet demand, the Rethink Food NYC has been vital to hospital workers and to those across the city who are normally  reliant on donations to stay healthy and fed.
How To Learn More: Here

JJ Johnson
Where He Works: Fieldtrip Harlem
What He’s Doing: Chef JJ Johnson’s Harlem restaurant is raising funds to feed healthcare workers and pay its staff. For every $8 donated, Fieldtrip adds another $2 in order to deliver 200 hot meals to hospital workers every Friday to hospitals in Harlem and NYC.
How To Learn More: Here

Connie McDonald and Pam Weekes
Where They Work: Levain Bakery
What They’re Doing: McDonald and Weekes, co-founders of Levain Bakery in Harlem, are collecting donations and baking up special care packages and delivering them to medical professionals all across NYC. You can place a donation order for  their insanely delicious super-sized cookies through their website or other food delivery platforms. To stay updated on the chefs’ efforts in food relief follow their Instagram.
How To Learn More: Here

Barbara Naaddjie
Where She Works: Barbara Food Creations
What She’s Doing: Naaddjie is raising money to provide free lunch to healthcare workers in the Bronx. The coronavirus has affected everyone, and, as a chef and small business owner, she says she would like to contribute to feeding and thanking our healthcare workers for their hard work, long hours, and dedication to helping people affected by this crisis.
How To Learn More: Here

Helen Nyugen
Where She Works: Saigon Social
What She’s Doing: Chef Nguyen’s first restaurant, Saigon Social, opened on March 13th and was quickly forced to close. Since then, her Lower East Side Vietnamese restaurant has served more than 500 meals to hospital workers and is continuing to raise funds by partnering with Frontline Foods, which matches donors  with restaurants to feed the city’s frontline healthcare workers.
How To Learn More: Here

Marcus Samuelsson
Where He Works: Red Rooster
What He’s Doing: Samuelsson and his team have partnered with chef José Andrés’s World Central Kitchen, a not-for-profit non-governmental organization, to prepare and distribute the meals in the Harlem community. Each Monday through Friday at 12pm, the chefs and their team provide food relief to those in need.
How To Learn More: Here

Christina Tosi
Where She Works: Milk Bar
What She’s Doing: Since March, only five of Milk Bar’s 18 locations have been up and running, but founder and award-winning pastry chef Tosi is determined to bring the joy of baking to the doorsteps of healthcare workers. To do that, she has been hosting a daily bake club on Instagram Live where she bakes with her viewers and shares the fruits of her labor. “Sending doctors and nurses on the frontlines cookies and cakes and pies has been the thing that has kept our hearts full and productive,” Tosi said about her food relief efforts.
How To Learn More: Here

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