Detroit Writers Recognize Members of the Food Community That Stepped in to Help People in Need in 2020
As is tradition with Eater, we closed 2020 by interviewing local food writers and our own staff on various restaurant-related topics and posting their responses over the course of the week. Next up: Was there a restaurant that you believed was really important to your local community? How did you do that?
Serena Maria Daniels, Founder and Editor of Tostada Magazine:
Saffron De Twah has definitely grown this year. Chef Omar was one of the first to realize that doing business as usual and trying to reconfigure yourself as a take-out or delivery restaurant wouldn’t work. He has provided probably thousands and thousands of meals for the communities throughout the year, and he does so during the holidays too. I expect he will find out what works for this purpose and that he will also be of use in the year ahead.
Mark Kurlyandchik, Restaurant Reviewer, Detroit Free Press:
Many chefs and other members of the local food community have stepped up during these times, and I hesitate to even pick someone, but the guided tour that Stephen Roginson of the Batch Brewing Company has given over the past few weeks has been truly admirable. He reached out to me last month when the second shutdown loomed and was asked if I knew of a centralized organization helping the struggling restaurant workers. When I told him there wasn’t one I knew about, he decided to basically create it himself and organize meals to feed and raise money for people. He’s not the only one, of course, but it’s encouraging to see.
Melody Baetens, Restaurant Reviewer, The Detroit News:
So many! There was a lot of support for the community from restaurants and chefs, even if they struggled with uncertainty especially early on. We have seen Saffron de Twah move and spin really fast all year round so that it best serves their community and keeps their employees and customers safe. I also love that Michigan & Trumbull launched their “Good Corner” menu section, which raised a few hundred dollars a month for a local nonprofit, despite being sure how they would survive having just got theirs before the pandemic Store opened.
Zahir Janmohamed, Co-Founder, Racist Sandwich:
Safran De Twahs communal kitchen.
Brenna Houck, Editor, Eater Detroit:
Too many to tell, frankly. It was amazing to watch Too Many Cooks evolve at Kitchen For Good, who made amazing contributions from chefs like Max Hardy, Phil Jones, Ederique Goudia and many others. Saffron De Twah really showed up to make sure people were catered for with his communal kitchen initiative. Not to mention all of the organizations that take care of service staff from Feelgood Tap of the Batch Brewing Company to Split Base Detroit.
Mickey Lyons, Freelance Writer, Eater:
From the beginning of the pandemic, Erica thought on her feet with Pietrzyk Pierogi. Your Pierogi boxes Pay It Forward were a great idea: a way to let the income flow, but also to look after the restaurant staff. Who doesn’t want a free pierogi on a hard day?
Go Tip ‘Em was a fun way to keep in touch and support my favorite bar staff over the months. Open a Painted Lady carryout cocktail, close my eyes, scroll through the Michigan names section, and send someone a random tip!
Batch Brewing harnessed the power of the Feelgood Tap to support restaurant staff. They brought other restaurants under the tent – literally – to host pop-ups in secure outdoor areas that they might not have access to. A really collaborative effort.
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