Minnesota’s Central Kitchen: Chefs, Second Harvest Heartland collab to combat hunger

Chef knives and sauté pans, wielded in the name of feeding the community

Chef knives and sauté pans, wielded in the name of feeding the community Star Tribune

Staring into the face of unprecedentedly quiet kitchens, Chowgirls Killer Catering, Restaurant Alma and The Bachelor Farmer banded together to make the most of their talents and stocked pantries.

In partnership with Second Harvest Heartland and Loaves and Fishes, these culinary heavyweights are donating their kitchen space, abundance of food, and skilled teams in service of preparing meals to feed community members experiencing hunger due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

The new initiative pools resources, which chefs and their teams use when preparing food for takeout. These meals are then delivered to hunger-relief programs throughout the state by way of Loaves and Fishes’ 30 existing locations. 

Its name? Minnesota’s Central Kitchen. 

(Coincidence that chef-saint José Andrés, founder of World Central Kitchen, was just in town for an Inspired Conversation? Either way, Andrés’ touch is evident.)

Though many chefs and restaurateurs are closing their doors at this time, Minnesota’s Central Kitchen provides an outlet for skills and goods that both might otherwise go unused. 

“We don’t have customers for the time being, but we do have food, we do have chefs, we do have line cooks,” Alex Roberts of Alma said in an official statement jointly announcing the project. “Let’s use them to feed folks who need a good meal as we face down the virus.”

“We will be reaching out to our food and hospitality industry friends to help us by donating food, recruiting volunteers to help prepare meals and using their talents to feed our community,” added Liz Mullen, executive chef of Chowgirls. 

Minnesota’s Central Kitchen expects to produce between 200 and 500 meals each day in its early stages, with the goal of ramping up to 2,000 meals a day.

“We hope that, through Second Harvest Heartland, even though many of our businesses will be affected by this pandemic, we will still be able to feed and take care of those who need it most during these difficult times,” continued The Bachelor Farmer’s Jonathan Gans. “Please join us if you can.”

Restaurants are encouraged to contact Dianne Wortz, Second Harvest Heartland’s food rescue emerging streams developer, to arrange donations of anything from kitchen work space to talent, teams, and remaining food. 

And should you, dear reader, find yourself vibing on this vision of solidarity during the pandemic? Thanks to a brand new, generous donation from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, all gifts made to Second Harvest Heartland will be matched up to $500,000 – so you needn’t be a chef, or have access to a walk-in full of food, to help make Minnesota’s Central Kitchen thrive right now. 

Consider donating to the efforts of Minnesota’s Central Kitchen today via