With so much troubling, worrying and negative news stories, I thought I would start a new tradition of finding positive articles, stories, or anecdotes that I would share with you to start the week. This story was shared on CNN (the link is attached at the end of the article). I have transcribed it here in case it gets removed by that webmaster at a future date.
Detroit mom-and-pop restaurants, forced to close due to coronavirus, now cook meals for the homeless.
(CNN)Behind the headlines of poverty and grit, Detroit has sprouted a surprisingly vibrant food scene.
“We’re known for Motown and cars and manufacturing. But in the last three years, there has definitely been a culinary boom,” said David Rudolph, a public relations representative for several local eateries.
Five Detroit chefs took stock of their kitchens, pooled their perishables and started cooking up creations for the city’s homeless and food-insecure.
They call their program Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen for Good, and with additional food donations, they are preparing meals for three homeless shelters.
Genevieve Vang of Bangkok 96 Street Food and Maxcel Hardy of Coop Caribbean Fusion discuss plans for the day’s menu.
A city of foodies who want to help
On March 21, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered bars, restaurants, and other businesses to stay closed through at least April 13; it was devastating news for family-owned restaurants like Coop Caribbean Fusion.
“I think the week before we closed, the business was down 30%,” chef Maxcel Hardy told CNN.”To already have that valley, then a shutdown, it’s really tough to bounce back from that.”
His kitchen at Coop Caribbean Fusion was full of food that would spoil over time. “I didn’t want to see that product go to waste,” he said.
First, Hardy began distributing food to his staff.
Hardy, of Coop Caribbean Fusion, and Stephanie Byrd from Flood’s Bar and Grille, with food to serve to Detroit’s homeless.
“They were out of a job and didn’t have anything but the last paycheck,” he said.
But there was still plenty of food leftover in his restaurant and in other commercial kitchens across Detroit. So he linked up with four other restauranteurs to create an eclectic program. In addition to his Caribbean fusion, Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen For Good has a Thai influence from chef Genevieve Vang at Bangkok 96 Street Food.
There’s also a particular flavor courtesy of restauranteurs Ron Bartell at Kuzzo’s Chicken and Waffles, and Stephanie Byrd of Flood’s Bar and Grille and The Block. Phil Jones from the Detroit catering collective, Ma Haru, is working the phones, keeping the supply of food coming.
Chefs get creative
All of the chefs are flexing their creativity and skills to craft meals from the hodgepodge of perishable items that come their way.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to have donations of all different sorts of products,” said Hardy.
That variety helps the chefs come up with healthy menus tailored for each of the places where their meals are served.
“As a chef, it is kind of easy for me; sometimes, I sit up at night, my creative juices just start rolling.”
Meanwhile, other people are volunteering. Rudolph, the public relations man who represents this new initiative, picked up his cleaver and joined in as a sous chef.
Culinary students from Greenhorn Training Solutions and local nonprofit Focus Hope are also jumping in to help.
Shelters receive help right on time
Detroit’s homeless shelters desperately need all the help the chefs can provide.
“It was definitely was a godsend to us,” said Chad Audie, president of Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries. Audie’s organization runs one of the shelters with 2,000 residents served by the Too Many Cooks initiative. The pandemic is increasing pressure on shelters as they struggle with CDC guidelines for people facing homelessness. “We have to keep them 24/7 because we can’t just let him go back to the streets,” Audie told CNN. But the food helps in many ways. “The healthy meals are boosting the morale of the population, as well as lifting a financial burden from the mission.” “We always said we are one paycheck away from being homeless ourselves,” Audie told CNN. “But today, it’s becoming a reality, and we need to help the most vulnerable population in our communities.”
Don’t forget your local mom-and-pop shops
Chef Hardy experienced food insecurity as a child, and before opening his restaurant in Detroit, he directed the New York Community Kitchen Food Bank.
“I was responsible for overseeing a kitchen that served about 700 meals each day,” he recalled. “It really kind of hit home and made me realize how important food rescue missions are.”
Now, he’s worried about vulnerable family restaurants and the people who rely on them for their livelihoods.
“Having a staff of twelve employees that really depend on getting a check every Friday — to now not knowing when the next checks come in,” an emotional Hardy explained, “it’s been tough on me mentally.”
March 29 is “National Mom-and-Pop Business Owners Day,” and Hardy hopes people remember those small businesses, especially when they try to reopen after the pandemic ends.
“Those are the pillars of your community and the places you should visit to keep your community rolling.”
“Show them, love, before we show the big boys love,” he added.
“I would like to see everyone make a list of places that you either haven’t been to or you want to visit and then go,” he said.
“The more we can help them, the more we can give back to the community.”
If you need food resources or would like to help source food for this initiative you can connect with the group throughTwitter.
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.