While “giving back” has become cliché in modern business, it’s still important to single out those selfless souls who make it part of their day’s work. The restaurant and food industry in particular offers an extraordinary level of dedication to charitable causes.
(Photo © Shawna Lemay/flickr)
Whether they support cancer research or help alleviate homelessness or domestic violence, restaurateurs somehow make sure they find the time and the resources to give as they can.
We found many food establishments both small and large who are opening not only their hearts, but their pocketbooks and kitchens to help the less fortunate. This is just a fraction of the many benevolent chefs, restaurants and organizations giving back.
It’s a Cat’s Life
Darbster Foundation is the brainchild of Ellen Quinlan and her husband Alan Gould, who operate a vegan restaurant of the same name in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Pedro was found in an abandoned building. He had worms and needed veterinary care. Darbster Foundation did this and he was subsequently adopted.
The popular eatery donates 100 percent of its profits to area charities that spay and neuter feral cats, and help animals find homes and low-income families pay veterinary bills.
Quinlan says that since she and her husband have other businesses, they don’t need the money from Darbster. “So we really set up the restaurant so we would have a place to eat that was vegan.”
Any profits they make are funneled into the foundation, last year saving about 300 cats from being put down through adoption programs. “These guys can’t take care of themselves so we feel it’s our responsibility to give back as much as we can,” Quinlan shares.
Thirty-nine year-old Hudson Valley, New York restaurateur and chef Marcus Guiliano is not content to simply craft your next meal. No–for him, making sure all restaurants serve healthy choices is a calling. Color him idealistic, but he is making a difference, both at his own restaurant, Aroma Thyme Bistro and around the country.
He exposes chefs and food companies who mislead or even deceive consumers, blowing some loud whistles on his website Truth in Menu, his YouTube channel and whenever you push a microphone in front of him. And not only is he passionate about eating well, he puts certified organic and sustainable cooking and eating into practice.
Chef Marcus Giuliano wants full disclosure of what is in our food and where it comes from. Photo © Jamie Giuliano
We recently asked Chef Guiliano a few questions about his MO, how he gets to the bottom of food deception and why he cares so much.
TOQUE: You’re a chef with a mission. You must have had a field day when all the news came out about pink slime. Were you aware it was so ubiquitous?
GUILIANO: I’ve seen a lot of stuff that goes on in beef packing houses. It didn’t surprise me they used more than the animal that they should have and put ammonia in.
What did surprise me was how massively it was being used – in schools, government programs. [At one moment] you didn’t hear about it and then [all of a sudden] everybody was using it.
I am not sure when it was developed, but the developmental stage, being mass produced on a big [scale] [seemed to have] happened relatively quickly.
“It all began on New Year’s Day…in my thirty-second year of being single.
Once again, I found myself on my own…
and going to my mother’s annual turkey curry buffet…” (“Bridget Jones”)
Photo © Aisha Yusaf
I am no longer in my thirty-second year of life or even my forty-second. And I’ve interviewed enough chefs to sauté my way around a kitchen with ease. I also got an A+ on my Home Ec omelet in high school. A-plus.
Yet year after year, my home remains a no-fly zone for family flocking to the aforementioned turkey curry buffet (or more aptly, a Jello mold). Not only that, annually I am relegated to the metaphorical “kids’ table” and it’s all about shuffling off to either my mom’s, my dad’s or my married stepsister’s.
Don’t get me wrong. I love these people. But this year, as I approached the dreaded 50, fondled my AARP membership application and jowl beneath my chin, I had a thought: ‘Hey! I really am a grown up!’
Year after year, my home remains a no-fly zone for family flocking to the aforementioned turkey curry buffet.
That was when I reckoned that the family should come here for Christmas or Hanukkah dinner. Although, identifying more with my Southern Baptist side — even though I’m agnostic this time of year — I would probably feed lox strictly to my cat Wally. This is why I sought inspiration from some single–or at least singleton-savvy–chefs.