In early March 2020, as restaurants began to close amidst COVID-19, kitchens everywhere went dark. And while they typically stand out from the culinary crowd, the kitchens of executive chefs Elizabeth Mullen (Chowgirls Catering) and Jonathan Gans (The Bachelor Farmer) were no exception.
“They were both saying that they were going to stop operations pretty fast,” says Thierry Ibri, Chief Operations and Program Officer at Second Harvest Heartland and friend of Mullen and Gans.
It was in this painful downturn, with the food bound for these kitchens going to waste and soaring hunger rates, that Ibri saw an opportunity to help. Inspired by World Central Kitchen, brainchild of chef José Andrés who he’d seen only two weeks prior at an event in Minneapolis, Ibri went to work gathering a team of restaurants, caterers, and hunger-fighting organizations. Founding partners included Chowgirls Catering, The Bachelor Farmer, Restaurant Alma, and Loaves and Fishes.
Now, about one month into its existence, Minnesota Central Kitchen is preparing and providing more than 35,000 meals per week to those in need, employing furloughed kitchen staff and putting idle kitchens to work.
Read more on at Minnesota Central Kitchen on Facebook.