In this time of crisis and uncertainty, there is something to be said for people who can maintain the goodness in their hearts. In Detroit, chefs from local restaurants that were forced to close their doors due to the coronavirus pandemic have become shining examples of heroes who wear aprons instead of capes as they turn their misfortune into much-needed help for those less fortunate.
CNN reports that five Detroit chefs have put together a program called “Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen for Good.” They are taking food that would have spoiled after bars and restaurants were ordered to close until at least April 13, and using it to cook meals for the homeless and others in need.
Coop Caribbean Fusion, a black, family-owned restaurant, laid the groundwork for this program.
“I think the week before we closed, the business was down 30 percent,” chef Maxcel Hardy told CNN. “To already have that valley, then a shutdown, it’s really tough to bounce back from that.”
Hardy wouldn’t let his business suffering overshadow his goodwill, so he began distributing food to his employees who “were out of a job and didn’t have anything but the last paycheck.” But there was still plenty of food leftover and still plenty of good to be done.
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.
Hardy said he has since received “donations of all sorts of other products” allowing him to get creative with his meal preparations. The program is also getting help from local culinary students and non-profit organizations, CNN noted, and the city’s homeless shelters couldn’t be more appreciative.
Chad Audie, president of Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries, which runs one of the shelters served by the program, called it a “godsend.”
“The healthy meals are boosting the morale of the population, as well as lifting a financial burden from the mission,” Audie said. “We always said we are one paycheck away from being homeless ourselves. But today, it’s becoming a reality, and we need to help the most vulnerable population in our communities.”
Every little bit helps and every mouth needs to be fed. “Shelter in place” orders hit different when people have no shelter. It warms the heart to know that there are people out there keeping the most vulnerable among us in mind and showing selflessness in the face of their own burdens. It’s beautiful and we hope that energy continues to flow long after this crisis has passed.