Three Michelin-starred restaurant Eleven Madison Park has reopened its doors as a soup kitchen in an effort to feed key workers during the COVID-19 pandemic
Overlooking one of Manhattan’s most beautiful parks, Eleven Madison Park is known world-wide for its fine dining dishes – which usually cost an average of $300 for a three-course meal. But as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s shifted focus from sous vide soufflés to charitable soup kitchen.
Having swapped his chef whites for scrubs, Michelin chef Daniel Humm and a team of former staffers are working 15-hour days making dishes like bolognese and braised beef for hospital workers and caretakers in New York City.
16 days after closing its doors, with assistance from American Express and the nonprofit Rethink, one of the world’s best restaurants is back to feeding people – making mass meals which are then delivered across the city.
The team includes a mix of front- and back-of-house staff who arrive around 7 a.m. and are immediately protective gear, before having their temperatures taken and divided into three work space.
Paid volunteers work in the main kitchen, the pastry kitchen, and the private dining space—where they start cooking around 2,000 meals, only to break hourly for a deep clean and for family meal.
Eventually, what they make is picked up and delivered by partner CityMeals on Wheels to hospitals such as New-York Presbyterian and the Collective Fare at Brownsville Community Culinary Centre – providing key workers with hearty fare to keep them sustained during gruelling shifts.
Daniel Humm commented: “For me, it’s about bringing people back to work and giving food to people who need food. I also hope it inspires other chefs. Because most of us have the tools in front of us to help and it can be done and it can be done safely.
I keep asking myself, “Why aren’t we doing this all the time?” We could be producing 100 meals everyday with not much more effort. And funding to fight hunger is actually available. We’re producing the meals at $5 or $6 a meal.
So if every restaurant in NYC would get $500 a day to produce 100 meals, we would end hunger. Just think about how powerful that is.”