San Francisco Restaurant Workers Apparently Don't Always Want Health Care
Millions in mandated San Francisco surcharges aren't collected by employees
Wikimedia/Rich Niewiroski Jr.
San Francisco’s five-year-old ordinance requiring companies to set aside funds for health care caught thousands of businesses in its net, and many restaurateurs responded by adding “health care surcharges” to their checks. But a lot of that money hasn’t been going to employees.
The law requires businesses with 20 or more part-time employees to set aside an extra $1 to $3 an hour for employee health care. In many cases, the fees were passed onto restaurant customers in the form of a three- to five-percent surcharge in the fine print of their receipts. According to The Washington Post, nearly $14 million was collected in extra fees, but roughly 40 percent of that money hasn’t gone towards its intended purpose — at least not yet.
Donna Levitt of San Francisco’s Office of Labor Standards and Enforcement said the city had been suspicious that the surcharge money wasn't always being properly utilized — but several restaurants that collected extra money deny any shady activities and say their workers didn’t opt to use the money. Some say the funds are still hanging out, waiting for them to be utilized.
Michael Mina’s RN74 and Michael Mina restaurants took in $540,000 in health surcharges from customers last year, for instance, and report paying out only $211,000. The company says it’s been holding mandatory meetings trying to get employees to apply for reimbursement of medical expenses. “Why they are not all excited about it like we are, I don’t know,” said Mina Group controller Paula Kaduce.
The Blue Plate stopped charging customers for health fees after it collected $40,000 in 2011 and only $500 was claimed.
“No one really wants to feel like we are collecting money or charging guests in a way that is irresponsible or secretive,” Blue Plate co-owner Jeff Trenam told the Associated Press. He theorized that the low claims were because his employees were young and healthy. He also said the funds were still there, and would be used for future health care expenses.
Proposal to end California COVID workplace guidelines and mask requirement by August
SAN FRANCISCO -- In just months, California could end workplace social distancing and mask requirements as part of newly proposed workplace safety rules being considered by the state.
"Right now at work you need to provide masks, you have to provide plastic dividers in place and if there are any incidents of COVID you have to allow for quarantine or workers to go home," said California Assemblymember Ash Kalra.
The proposal would need to be approved by California's Occupational Safety & Health Standard Board. The board is expected to meet on May 20. If approved, the new rules would begin by August 1.
As part of this proposal, workers won't have to physically distance themselves from others in the workplace.
"The proposed revisions remove face-covering requirements for fully vaccinated persons outdoors and indoors where everyone is fully vaccinated," said CAL-OSHA in an email to ABC7 News.
Starting July 31, employers will need to provide free COVID-19 testing to employees with COVID symptoms.
"If you are a vaccinated employee and you are exposed you will not need to quarantine," said Emily Abraham, Interim Director of Public Policy for the SF Chamber of Commerce. "You won't have to be excluded from work."
Abraham believes these changes could lead to the implementation of a "vaccine passport."
"I do envision a scenario where there is a kind of vaccine passport. Everyone is going to have a laminated version of their vaccine card to get in places. It might become more regular to ask if you've been vaccinated or not," said Abraham.
Larry Gadea, CEO and founder of Envoy held an internal survey to understand how his employees feel about coming back to the office.
"We're looking at going back in about 2 weeks from today," Gadea explained. "We are looking at being hybrid for the majority of the beginning. For the next few I would guess months. At lot of people are not ready and you don't want to force people in a situation that they are not comfortable in. So, were opening up first for the people that want to be there."
Assemblymember Kalra, who is the Chair of the state's labor and employment committee, said employees will not be required to show proof of vaccination.
"No, there is no requirement to force the employees to show proof," Kalra added. "That is where there is going to be some challenges."
Assemblymember Kalra believes this change is positive, but his concern are restaurant workers and those in direct contact with the public.
"That is very challenging. It's voluntary, so workers can still opt to wear a mask because you have customers coming in and you don't know what their status is in terms of being vaccinated or not," Assemblymember Kalra said.
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In the Restaurant Industry, Improving Mental Health Feels More Important Than Ever
The food world suffered a major shock in 2018 when celebrity chef, writer, and television host Anthony Bourdain died by suicide. A cynical yet compassionate realist, Bourdain was often candid about his bouts with depression and substance abuse, and that fact made him more relatable to many of his fans and admirers. Despite his candor, however, many were left shocked and distraught by the news of Bourdain’s passing, including Patrick Mulvaney, owner of the exalted Mulvaney’s B&L in Sacramento, California. But in Mulvaney’s case, the grief he felt was compounded by what was happening locally.
“It was brutal. Just in between middle of December and middle of January, four people died in Sacramento, hospitality people. Three of them were either working or had worked for us before, and one was a long time Sacramentan. So, this is about as ‘home’ as home can get,” Mulvaney told Civil Eats.
Mulvaney has been a pioneer in the city’s farm-to-fork movement and has committed to cutting nearly all food waste in his restaurant. The back room at Mulvaney’s, “The Snug,” has been a staple for meetings of the mind among power players of government and business in California. So, when he shifted to focus on mental health in the community, it wasn’t something he did casually. And the response, among his Sacramento peers as well as nationwide, suggests that others in the industry are beginning to take this matter seriously, too.
Food Service as a Harbinger of Mental Health Epidemics
The hospitality and restaurant community in Sacramento lost at least 12 people to mental health complications, including substance abuse and suicide, over the course of 2018. In addition to current and former employees, Mulvaney also lost a close friend and former coworker, chef Noah Zonca. According to Patrick and his wife and business partner, Bobbin Mulvaney, after the death of Zonca, the local restaurant industry needed space to come together, mourn, and figure out how they would address what felt like a local epidemic — one all too real for many Americans.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about one in five Americans lives with a mental illness, yet only half receive treatment. Moreover, depression and anxiety disorders are the leading cause of ill health and disability across the globe, as reported by the World Health Organization. Service workers, particularly the nearly 10 million who work within the hospitality and restaurant industry, are more susceptible to developing and succumbing to mental illness than workers in non-tipped, salaried industries.
This group is also more likely to self-report illicit drug use and has the highest rates of substance abuse disorder than any other sector. While the factors leading to these disparities are not entirely clear, the odd hours, unpredictable scheduling, low wages, lack of full benefits, high turnover rates — and the requirement to constantly be “on” at work — may all play a role.
Despite being the sector with the most new jobs in the U.S. economy, hospitality and restaurant workers hold some of the lowest-paid occupations, which can range widely from a barely livable wage as a bartender to less than livable as a table busser, runner, dishwasher, or fast food worker. Research published by the U.C. Berkeley Food Labor Research Center and Restaurant Opportunity Center has also found that gender and racial disparities often relegate women and people of color to less lucrative positions within the industry. Brenda Ruiz, an independent contract chef and president of the Sacramento Food Policy Council, isn’t surprised by these statistics.
“A lot of [Americans] are having trouble accessing benefits and full-time hours,” says Ruiz. “Folks are struggling and on the margins — living paycheck-to-paycheck, dropping off the kids, working a few hours at the first job, picking up the kids, going to their second job — that’s everywhere. It just so happens that this sector is built to receive everyone who is willing to show up.”
Wolete “Sunny” Atherley, chef and owner of two Sacramento-area restaurants, Just Divine’s Bakery and Caribbean Cafe and the recently opened Dub Plate Kitchen, hires a number of young adults from the local neighborhood, who gravitate to the atmosphere she has set up. “They feel like they can be themselves [here],” says Atherley. “Over time, though, I realized a lot of my young employees were dealing with depression.”
To counter what she saw, Atherley began to prioritize community care. She made it a mission to create and maintain a jovial environment in her restaurants, intentionally playing uplifting music, and encouraging her employees to adopt a healthy diet, stay active, get rest and sunlight, and stay positive. More importantly, she encourages them to be their authentic selves at work.
“If you’re quirky, be quirky. If you love anime, do your anime. If you love poetry or music, do your art,” says Atherley. “It’s okay, but a lot of my employees felt secluded and disconnected from community, even though many were neighbors who became coworkers.”
Both Mulvaney and Ruiz say that the nature of the work can still make it difficult for hospitality and restaurant workers to adopt and maintain healthy practices. “We have an industry with a problem that we don’t always talk about,” says Mulvaney. “We’re in hospitality, so we want to know how your soup is, whether your drink is right, or if your steak is cooked right, and we don’t necessarily think about ourselves that much.”
Restaurants can also be high-stress, time-sensitive environments, where head chefs and managers are notorious for leveraging whatever tools available, including yelling and harsh rhetoric, to push their workers to maintain high levels of performance. Many restaurant workers also reach for drugs and alcohol to help them unwind — especially if they work weekend, early morning, and late-night hours and only have time off when recreational spaces, outlets, and activities tend to be closed or unavailable. Add on-going social and economic inequity and the daily political strife playing out in national politics, and it’s no wonder that an air of hopelessness is so common among hospitality and restaurant workers.
Working Toward a Solution
The deaths in Sacramento prompted Mulvaney to use his connections to respond. Last year, he began working in partnership with Kaiser Permanente, VSP Global, WellSpace Health, the Steinberg Institute, and the James Beard Foundation to design, implement, and expand a pilot program to end the silence on mental health in the industry called “I Got Your Back.” The program is a peer-to-peer or near-peer counseling program that first launched in Mulvaney’s own restaurant. It involves training select workers — peer mentors — to identify signs of mental distress while on the floor. Peer mentors are identifiable in the restaurant by a purple hand on their uniforms, and empowered to check-in with their coworkers in a supportive way.
“Suicide happens in bursts or waves it’s not individual incidents. You need to be cognizant of something called ‘contagion’ and how it manifests after traumatic incidents,” says Mulvaney. “That could be employees expressing how they don’t want to get out of bed or leave their home, or an abrupt, extended decline in activity on social media. Simply checking in on employees can go a long way.”
In addition to getting trained himself, Mulvaney has begun hosting mental health seminars and workshops for other chefs and restaurateurs to keep the conversation going. The next step is developing online resources for restaurant workers looking to connect with a mental health professional if and when they are in or nearing a crisis.
“If we can affect even one person, then we’re good at my restaurant,” says Mulvaney. “If we can affect the city by having more of us in the restaurant world adopting I Got Your Back — and we want to do this across spectrums, not just James Beard restaurants, we want all restaurants from fast food to high-end eateries to adopt it — that would be cool. And, if this works [we’ll have] California, [then hopefully] Illinois, Oregon, Nevada, and other states bringing the conversation out and expanding the coalition of the willing.”
Efforts to broaden the conversation around mental health in the food scene, like Mulvaney’s pilot program, are also occurring around the nation. New York City-based food writer Kat Kinsman, for example, launched the website and Facebook group, “Chefs with Issues” in 2016 to destigmatize mental illness by providing an online space for people in the industry to “share their stories and resources for dealing with the particular pressures of restaurant life, so that other people may feel less alone.”
Brenda Ruiz commends these efforts. She also stresses that given the current economic conditions in Sacramento as well as the country, securing and normalizing a livable wage, access to affordable health care, and affordable housing for all hospitality and restaurant workers are paramount to improving their mental health.
“I think for the mental health issues, restaurant owners and the industry can definitely educate their employees about accessing health care,” says Ruiz. “In California, for example, there is now the Small Business Marketplace in Covered California, the state’s health insurance marketplace. Small businesses, like restaurants, can pool together and offer employees health care affordably. I don’t think enough business owners know about it.”
Ruiz also hopes to see the conversation extend beyond chefs in full-service, high-end restaurants to expand on bringing systemic reforms across the board to help minimum-wage workers in food courts, chain restaurants, cafeterias, and other segments of the industry.
And Sunny Atherley encourages leaders in the hospitality and restaurant industry to take a deeper look inward at their peers and employees to see them as full humans and build a community.
“That’s one thing a lot of restaurateurs forget, I think they forget to encourage their employees to take a moment,” says Atherley. “If you’re in a high-stress environment and you’re always working … the anxiety is too much the pressure is too much. Remind your employees to take a mental break. Cultivating human connections with and among your employees, eye-to-eye contact, a kind gesture or note once in a while, can all make a world of a difference.”
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.
My Restaurant Is Closing, But I’m Not Letting It Go Away Quietly
After 21 years—and numerous accolades, including a James Beard Best Chef: Pacific award—chef-owner Traci des Jardins is closing Jardinière on Saturday. She says she’s “tired of fine-dining,” and as of the announcement made on March 25, she’s received overwhelming support from the restaurant community, food media, and her regulars. In the days when restaurant cooking was flashy and theatrical, and long before San Francisco’s Hayes Valley became a hotbed of trendy restaurants, des Jardins opened this quietly confident white table-clothed, French technique–driven, local produce–powered restaurant. It was a revolutionary move in 1997, and Jardinière soon became an institution. But it was more than just a groundbreaking restaurant it was a home for all who came in to dine, and especially to those who came to work. How do you close a restaurant with so much history? Des Jardins is figuring that out. —Elyse Inamine
We’ve changed a lot of things at Jardinière over the years to stay relevant. We got rid of the live music and replaced the stage with a somm station. We turned the dining room downstairs into a lounge. Recently, I’ve been examining what works and what doesn’t at Jardinière. I was trying to figure out what else we could do to keep the restaurant fresh and current. I don’t think there was one moment, but I realized I didn’t want to change anything. I’m proud of the work we’ve done. The hospitality. The food. The wine service and the cocktails. I stand by it. So I decided to close Jardinière.
I’ve opened a lot of restaurants, but I’ve never had the experience of closing one. I reached out to colleagues who had and asked them: How can I do this graciously? How do I do this in a way that makes sense on my own terms? I’ve always been self-reflective and thought about my impact on the world it probably came from my parents. “Treat people the way you want to be treated—with fairness and kindness,” they said. As I close Jardinière, I just want to make sure everyone, whether they’re guests or staff, feels like someone cares. That’s the person I want to be in this world.
Des Jardins with Audie Golder, the current executive chef of Jardinière. He's been at the restaurant for the last eight years.
So, we talked to the staff first about a month ago, and it was extremely emotional. It was an all-staff meeting, which doesn’t happen that often. They were wondering what was going on. I had remarks prepared, but the emotions took over, not just in terms of my own feelings but the staff’s. When you run a restaurant as long as I have, you have people who have been there for 19 years. It’s family.
The public announcement happened at the same time. With social media, you have to be mindful. If one staff member puts it on social media, then word gets out. We had to be cognizant of communication. Since then, I’ve been in the restaurant every night. Guests have come back, like a couple who had their first date, got engaged, threw their wedding reception, and eventually brought their kids here. Reliving that whole trajectory of people’s lives and understanding the role that the restaurant has played in their lives has been incredibly rewarding. I’m talking to dozens of people every night, some I know well and others I don’t. It’s exhausting, but it’s my way of letting go and saying goodbye as well as my way to give the staff support.
Restaurants in the Time of Covid-19
Shekarchi left her job as a chef at a Catskills inn and moved to Los Angeles to pursue freelance work and search for a fulltime job. Just a couple of weeks after her move, the shutdown squashed her plan.
It was my birthday a few days ago, and I really wanted cake. I wanted to appreciate my little good fortune, and the abundance of love and generosity in my life. I&rsquod just moved back to Los Angeles with basically a truck-full of hope, few belongings or tools, and no job just days before the lockdown. I was so glad to be home and reconnected with family, friends, and the amazing community of chefs and farmers I know, and planned to freelance until I got a permanent job. I had a checklist of goals and looked forward to finally putting my energy into food justice and climate work. I felt inspired.
Unfortunately, my intentions got sideswiped. I&rsquove found myself in a minefield of confusion like many in my profession, and I&rsquom doing what we all do best&hellip I&rsquom cooking! This birthday, I was cooking for a little respite from my thoughts, and sweetness to remember that things won&rsquot always be this way. I didn&rsquot have many ingredients, and wanted to make something unfussy and delicious. The scarcity of ingredients has made me more keenly mindful of waste than ever before. The idea of this bread was born from my craving for cake and some leftover chocolate stout, which I refused to throw out. It&rsquos delicious with coffee.
Here&rsquos to days when we can celebrate together and hug the people we love. Makes 1 loaf
Position rack to middle of oven and preheat to 350F. Coat 8.5 X 4.5 loaf pan with a tiny bit of neutral oil (don&rsquot waste your butter!) and dust with a bit of flour. In one bowl, mix together 1.5 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, .25 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, and .25 tsp salt. In another bowl, cream 4 Tbsp softened unsalted butter and .5 cup granulated sugar. Slowly mix in 2 lightly beaten eggs until incorporated. Mix 1/3 cup chocolate stout into the flour mixture (can also be made with any amber or brown beer), followed by the egg mixture. The batter will be very thick, almost like paste. To that, add a scant .5 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips. Scrape into pan and bake until cake tester or skewer comes out free of wet batter, 40-45 minutes.
Syrup: In a saucepan, simmer 1 cup chocolate stout and .5 cup granulated sugar until the mixture begins to thicken like maple syrup, about 12 minutes. Cool bread for 10 minutes, and pour the syrup over it.
Frantsena lost her bartending job at 200 Proof, a catering company in Los Angeles, after it closed &ldquountil further notice.&rdquo
Under normal circumstances, my Saturday night would be spent working behind the bar. Instead, these Saturdays, I gingerly move from my &ldquonews reading section&rdquo of the couch to my &ldquositting and thinking&rdquo spot. I contemplate whether cutting my own hair would be crazy in a fun sort of way, or just nuts. I think about how I really should add some structure back into my life.
The catering company I work for staffs bartenders and waiters for birthday parties, weddings, concerts, and events. Sometimes I served mocktails at graduation parties. Other times I made 200 drinks at a concert. I&rsquod like to say that the key ingredient in these events was my bartending skills, but it turns out it was mostly just people gathering in groups to have fun.
In addition to flexible hours and income, my favorite part of the job was the ever-present love of my life: snacks. My favorite was when we were allowed to sample food catered by yummy taco trucks&mdashthis made for a delightful end of shift. In the absence of the group gatherings and jobs, I tried to establish a resemblance to my work at home. And when my boyfriend refused to tip me for bringing him tea, I decided to make tacos instead.
What I like about this taco recipe is that it&rsquos all made in one pan, which means easy cleanup. I used tilapia, but any flaky white fish will work. You can also use different kinds of veggies. If you don&rsquot have taco shells or tortillas in your pantry, use lettuce leaves to create taco cups. Or spread the whole deal over rice and enjoy it as a taco bowl. No judgment here. I can&rsquot see you from my couch, after all. Makes 6 tacos
Preheat oven to 350 F, and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Place a 1-pound tilapia filet (or other flaky white fish), 2 peppers (one red, one orange), sliced, and 1 small onion, sliced, in a single layer on the baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp olive oil, sprinkle with a large pinch of salt, 5 or 6 grinds of cracked pepper, one eighth tsp chili powder, and then squeeze the juice of 1 lime over all the ingredients. Place in preheated oven and bake until fish is cooked through and looks opaque when flaked with a fork, about 10 minutes. Heat six 4-inch corn tortillas the way it says on the package. Distribute tilapia, peppers, and onion equally between tortillas. Garnish with sliced jalapeño and cilantro.
LeRoy converted his food truck, LeRoy and Lewis, into a drive-thru to take orders online, and started a Patreon.
It&rsquos no surprise restaurants and small businesses are struggling. Our little food truck is still open but our revenue is down more than 50 percent during a time when we would normally be up due to festivals, weddings, and other events. We converted the truck to a drive-thru, are pushing online pre-orders, and have started an instructional Patreon to help with income. Luckily we haven&rsquot had to lay anyone off, but we did have one employee from Singapore who went back home to his family.
We&rsquove been really busy at the truck lately after an Eater video featuring us went viral. The drive-thru is rocking and we have had a few different Sunday pick-up events that have brought us a line of cars.
Doing our part at home to support local eateries, we&rsquove been buying extra meals at restaurants instead of taking another trip to the grocery store. Barbecue is particularly well-suited for repurposing, because it&rsquos ordered in bulk and can be substituted into almost any dish that calls for meat. This is a recipe we put on our menu regularly when we have extras floating around. It&rsquos a good way to support your local restaurants, avoid the grocery store, and have a great meal all at the same time. Makes 1 large or 2 small servings
In a medium skillet or wok, heat 1 Tbsp neutral oil on high heat. Add in about .25 pound rough-chopped barbecue meat along with 1 clove garlic, minced, 2 scallions, sliced, and 1 Tbsp minced ginger. Sauté until meat begins to brown and the aromatics soften. Throw in a few chopped up cooked carrots, a handful of greens, or any other cooked vegetable from another meal you made earlier in the week. Cook for about a minute just to warm it through. Make a well in the middle of the meat and veggie mass and crack in 1 egg. Scramble until fully cooked and mix to incorporate. Dump out the meat and veg mix into a bowl to reserve.
Wipe out the pan and put it back over high heat and let it get really hot. Once the pan is smoking, add a few drops of sesame oil to the pan. Swirl around to coat and add in 2 cups cooked and cooled rice. Cook the rice, stirring constantly, until all the clumps have broken up and it has just begun to brown and take on color. Add back in all the cooked meat and veggies and mix together.
At this point, I like to add about 2 Tbsp soy sauce, fish sauce, rice vinegar, or any other salty/acidic Asian condiment taking up space in the fridge or pantry. Taste for seasoning.
If you&rsquove got them, top with fresh herbs (I like Thai basil, mint, and cilantro) and crispy fried onions.
Goldberg&rsquos role as the director of marketing and communications at The Jefferson in Washington, D.C., was reduced to part-time while the hotel is temporarily closed.
I&rsquove lived in downtown Washington, D.C. since 1996, and had recently graduated college when 9/11 happened. Because I lived about a mile from the White House, the National Guard and a military tank took up residence in front of my building for the following week, and like every other person in the country, I grew increasingly anxious. I was only 22 and had yet to discover the powers of Xanax, so I started to bake. Constantly. I&rsquod call my grandmother Ruthie, who was an incredible home cook, to extract recipes from the Rolodex in her head&mdashlike most grandmothers, she never wrote anything down. From her apple cake to her zucchini bread, my kitchen was covered in a thin film of AP flour for a month. I&rsquod scribble down her recipes, not knowing when I&rsquod be able to go back to New York to see her and the rest of my family. Making her desserts made me feel connected during a time when an actual connection wasn&rsquot possible.
My grandmother passed away in 2004, but my parents are still in New York, and all the Xanax in the world has not helped the intense fear and helplessness I feel having them so close to the epicenter of this pandemic. To help with my anxiety, I&rsquom back in the kitchen, revisiting many of Grandma Ruthie&rsquos recipes, but this time around, I&rsquove been leaning savory over sweet. The one recipe I return to is her roasted chicken. It&rsquos been modified by my mother and me over time Ruthie would never put butter under the chicken skin&mdasha shanda (disgrace)! Still, the smell of this meal transports me back to Long Island, back to Ruthie&rsquos kitchen, and for a moment, the only thing I worry about is which TV show to stream while I eat it. Serves 2 to 3
Preheat the oven to 350F. Remove the giblets and neck from the cavity of a 3-3.5 lb. chicken (Kosher, if you can find one) and either discard or save to make chicken stock. In a large roasting pan, create a bed for the chicken with 3 or 4 large carrots, peeled and quartered lengthwise, and 3 or 4 large celery stalks, quartered. Lay the chicken, breast side down, in the center of the pan. (There will be some vegetables visible on either side of the chicken, which is what you want.) Alternating between 1 navel orange or lemon, halved, and 1 medium-sized onion, halved, fill the cavity of the chicken. Apply 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into little cubes, under the skin of the chicken. It&rsquos okay if you break through the skin in some parts, just try to cover as much chicken real estate as you can.
Drizzle about 2 Tbsp olive oil over the chicken and the vegetables, and add .5 cup water to the bottom of the pan. Use .25 tsp salt and 3 cracks of pepper over both the vegetables and the chicken add a dash of paprika to the top of the chicken.
Transfer to preheated oven and set a timer for 30 minutes. When the timer goes off, flip the entire chicken over. You should see some of the juices start to fall from the chicken onto the vegetables. With a baster or a large spoon, coat the vegetables and the top of the chicken with the juice from the bottom of the pan. If you aren&rsquot seeing the gravy starting to take shape, add another .5 cup water to the vegetables. From this point on, baste three more times at 10-minute intervals. After 30 minutes, check to see if the chicken is cooked through. An instant read meat thermometer inserted into one of the breasts should read between 162F and 165F. If you don&rsquot have a thermometer, check to see if the leg of the chicken wiggles easily and make a small cut into the leg. If the juices coming out of the chicken are clear and the leg feels like it can easily be pulled off, you&rsquore good to go.
Remove the pan from the oven and let the chicken rest for 10-12 minutes before transferring the chicken to a cutting board. Next, spoon out the vegetables (which at this point should be cooked through and fork tender), and the gravy into a separate bowl to serve alongside the chicken. Once the chicken has rested, remove the citrus and onion from the cavity and you are ready to carve and serve.
Tran lost her server job at PhoBar in Greenwich Village, New York, after the restaurant was forced to close.
My roommate once asked how I survived college without &ldquolearning how to cook,&rdquo and I told her it was much like how I survived college in general: by doing the bare minimum. I&rsquove always considered myself more of an assembler than a cook, stacking sandwiches as quickly as possible, mixing pasta with tomato sauce, or pouring dressing into a bag of lettuce and shaking it up. It didn&rsquot help that I also worked at a restaurant, and subsisted almost entirely on staff meals and rice I stole from the kitchen at the end of shifts. During the first weeks of quarantine, after my restaurant closed, I enjoyed testing my metabolism&rsquos limits with various frozen foods. Now that we are more than a few weeks in, I&rsquove been searching for more comforting recipes that still require little effort.
My dad, who is quarantined on the other side of the country with my siblings, was worried about my diet and sent me his recipe for cơm canh đậu hũ, a Vietnamese dish that literally translates to rice soup tofu. He used to make it for us when we were kids, and the smell of the simmering broth would beckon us from behind our rooms&rsquo closed doors. We gathered in the kitchen and squirmed while he ladled the tomato-stained soup into our bowls, the cubes of tofu shivering when they broke the surface. I could be mushy and say that making the recipe now connects me to my family, or that sharing food is a way for my dad to express love, or that it makes me feel less alone when I eat it in my basement apartment with only a view of the ground. All this is true, but it is also just very easy to make. Serves 2
To start, cook 2 cups white rice according to package directions, and in a separate saucepan, heat 2 cans of chicken broth (approximately 4 cups preferably the Nước Cốt Gà brand). Once the broth is simmering, add 2 or 3 tomatoes, sliced, and continue cooking until the tomatoes are thoroughly boiled and give the soup a slight reddish color. Cut 1 pack firm tofu (14 ounces) into cubes and add it to the soup, along with additional vegetables if desired. I like adding bok choy, but you can also use snow peas, Napa cabbage, or Chinese broccoli. Add some fresh dill, then scoop rice into bowls, ladle the soup over it and season at will.
A hospitality team member at Mendocino Farms in Marina Del Rey, California, Craig&rsquos hours were cut, then he was furloughed.
My interest in cooking was born out of my love of movies. Specifically, Jon Favreau&rsquos 2014 film Chef. More specifically, a one-minute scene in which Favreau cooks a pasta dish so delicious it seduces Scarlett Johansson. That was enough for me. The very next day, I went out and bought a chef&rsquos knife (the rite of passage for Favreau&rsquos son in the movie), and started researching how to conjure this Italian sorcery. Thanks to the YouTube channel &ldquoBinging with Babish,&rdquo which has become my guide in learning how to cook, I found a step-by-step walkthrough for this pasta agilo e oilo.
I also quickly learned I was not alone. Babish&rsquos video has nearly 8 million views. In truth, aglio e oilo is one of the most popular dishes on the internet, and among the millennial generation, likely the single most common gateway dish into home cooking. It requires only seven ingredients, and just a few simple steps to create. Yet it looks and feels and tastes like something out of a professional kitchen. Even the title sounds impressive, Italian for &ldquogarlic and oil.&rdquo
I&rsquom not sure whom to thank for igniting my passion for food: Jon Favreau, for making Chef legendary L.A. chef and culinary advisor for the film Roy Choi, for bringing the dish to the big screen Andrew Rea, for teaching me how to make it and many other things on his YouTube channel or maybe Scarlett Johansson, for being the woman who launched eight million home cooks. I got to meet Rea and Choi on the &ldquoBinging with Babish&rdquo book tour and express my gratitude. Still waiting on that meeting with ScarJo. Serves 2 to 3
Mince one bunch Italian parsley (also called flat-leaf) and thinly slice 8-10 large garlic cloves (razor-blade style from Goodfellas optional). Heat a large pot of salted water and cook 10 oz. dried spaghetti to al dente (8 to 10 minutes, check the box for timing directions). Save 1 cup of pasta water, and then drain the pasta through a colander. Pour enough olive oil into a large nonstick frying pan to fill the bottom with a shallow pool (maybe .5 cup) then place over medium heat until the oil is shimmering. Throw in sliced garlic and stir until golden brown, roughly 90 seconds. Add red pepper flakes (amount based on heat level desired), plus a pinch of salt and pepper, and stir. Add drained spaghetti and splash of reserved pasta water to the pan, then toss until pasta is coated. Kill the heat. Add the parsley, and squeeze the juice of one lemon on top. Toss well, transfer to serving dish and top with shaved parmesan.
Seeto was the manager at Crepe-Madame, a catering company in San Francisco. She stopped working on March 12, after clients began cancelling events.
My boyfriend and I have both been out of work since March 12. He&rsquos a professional musician. I&rsquom in catering. Sadly, we haven&rsquot ordered any takeout to support our fellow service industry workers, because our household currently has no income. So we&rsquove been cooking (and drinking) a lot. The bf ( his name is Justin) is what I call a natural vegetarian: He has never liked meat. So imagine his horror when all the Impossible and Beyond burgers started edging out his beloved garden burgers at his veggie restaurants. He hates the texture of meat, real or fake.
So we recently whipped up these veggie burgers. It&rsquos a flexible recipe that anyone can easily modify. This version is based on what we had in our kitchen at the time. We also have it on this ongoing menu planning for Justin&rsquos imaginary vegetarian restaurant called Rock&rsquos Box (his last name is Rock). Can you tell who does most of the cooking in our household? Anyway, it&rsquos been a healthier, cheaper, and more creative endeavor to become mostly vegetarian during shelter-in-place. I&rsquove been sneaking in my bacon and Spam rations during breakfast. Serves 4
Preheat oven to 425F. In a food processor or large bowl using stick blender, combine one can black beans and one can chickpeas (appx. 15 ounces each), rinsed and drained, 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped, 1 red bell pepper, chopped, 3 cloves of garlic, minced, 1 large onion (half chopped for patty mixture, half sliced and reserved for topping option), 1 flax egg (1 Tbsp flax meal + 2.5 Tbsp water) or 1 chicken egg, 2 scallions, trimmed and chopped, 1 tsp. liquid smoke, 1 tsp.salt and 0.5 tsp. ground pepper.
Process until mixture has come together enough to form patties&mdashalthough it&rsquos nice to keep big chunks of veggies in the patties for a more textured bite. Make 4 equal-sized balls of veggie-bean mixture and flatten into circles on a non-stick baking sheet. Bake about 30 minutes, or until patties seem solid&mdashtops will appear dry, but they will still be soft. If you don&rsquot use them in the grilled sandwiches, the patties pair nicely with some quick sauté shoestring fries, fresh green salad, or roasted cruciferous veggies, such as Brussels sprouts and cauliflower.
This is how I like to serve them: Vegetable Patty Melt w/caramelized onions and melted cheese on sourdough bread with Thousand Island dressing.
Put a few glugs of olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Add the reserved sliced onions, stirring to coat with the oil. After onions turn translucent, lower heat and continue to cook until a caramel color, stirring occasionally, about 20 to 30 minutes. Monitor the heat, lowering it if onions are starting to burn. Preheat a pan (preferably a grill pan) on medium heat, with a little butter (or olive oil) and prepare 8 slices sourdough sandwich bread to make four sandwiches. Spread Thousand Island dressing on all 8 slices and then sprinkle 4 pieces with shredded cheese of your choice&mdashwe had mozzarella and cheddar. Carefully transfer each patty to each side with cheese. Top each with caramelized onions, more cheese, and other slice of bread, dressing side down. Transfer to grill pan and toast each side until cheese is melted and bread is golden-brown, about 4 minutes on each side. Slice in half on the diagonal to see your beautiful work and arrange on plate in an aesthetically pleasing way.
Fischoff worked as a server and bartender at Girasole in Pittsburgh, where most of the front-of-house-staff was furloughed.
When I left for Copenhagen in 2007 to research my graduate thesis on the squatter community of Christiania, I had one purpose: to write about the concept of freedom as told through the histories of its people. What was pegged as a car-free, hash-trading, alternative tourist attraction in every European guidebook was a community who had risked everything to maintain a semblance of a &ldquofree town.&rdquo
In Copenhagen, I biked past a bakery at every corner, relished fresh and pickled varieties of fish, and layered freshly buttered toast with thinly sliced chocolate. And pork in every form that rivaled any I&rsquod ever tasted&mdashmy friends joked that there were more pigs in Denmark than people. I loved the delicacies of a world I was desperate to be mine.
I was not raised in a family of chefs. I had no legacy of secret recipes passed down from great-grandparents. In my college apartment kitchen, I experimented as if I was a biology major entering the lab. I stuffed meats with seasonal vegetables, sliced cheeses whose names I couldn&rsquot pronounce, and flavored sauces with whatever spices my roommate perched on the cupboard shelf.
I wanted to share my world&mdashmy cuisine&mdashwith the Danish twenty-somethings who welcomed me into a community that was wary of outsiders. Together we got tear-gassed at police protests and skinny-dipped in the Stradsgraven, and with impeccable English they taught me that philosophy was to be discovered not just in books but through living. Without an heirloom dish or perfected American staple, the only dinner I could think to cook was one I created. So with on a student&rsquos budget and a tiny grocery store the size of a single American aisle, I threw together a basket of chickpeas, spinach, walnuts and bacon&mdasha shortlist of ingredients that became a moment of my own Danish history. (Which can be made without the pork!) Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side
Place a large (12- or 15-inch) sauté pan over high heat (cast iron works wonders, if you have it). Chop up a package of bacon into inch-sized pieces (6-8 slices of thick-cut works best) and add to the pan, cooking until they start to become slightly browned, about another 3 to 5 minutes. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving the lovely renderings in the pan. Add 1 Tbsp minced garlic and half a white onion, diced. Saute until onions become translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add 2 large handfuls of raw unsalted walnut halves and once they start to glisten a toasted brown, add one can chickpeas (appx. 15 ounces), drained, and generously season with about 1 Tbsp each dried paprika, oregano, and thyme. Sprinkle 3 large pinches of salt across the mixture. Stir continuously for about 5 minutes. Mix in 5 or 6 giant handfuls of fresh spinach and cook for another 2 minutes until the leaves start to appear wilted, stirring as you go so that all the ingredients mix together. Add the bacon back in. Toss once more and remove from heat. Serve over rice, quinoa, or as is.
Grier was a bartender at the Multnomah Whiskey Library in Portland, Oregon, which was shut down on March 16.
Springtime in Portland arrived about a week into our shutdown, and aside from my daily bike ride, I&rsquove been experiencing it mostly from my window. With everything in bloom, I associate honey cocktails with the season. Honey syrup is easy to make and brings an extra dimension of flavor that you don&rsquot get with standard simple syrup. It&rsquos also extremely versatile in basic three-ingredient cocktails, by combining it with citrus and a base spirit. The most well-known of these is the Bee&rsquos Knees, which mixes gin, honey, and lemon, but it can work with just about any bottle you have on hand. Substitute bourbon for gin and you have a Gold Rush rum, lime or lemon, and honey makes a Honeysuckle. With aged rum and a splash of sparkling wine, you&rsquove got an Airmail. Tequila, cognac, aquavit&hellip pick a spirit and you can probably make a tasty cocktail by shaking it with honey syrup and citrus juice. Serves 1
The first step is making the honey syrup. Because honey straight from the jar is sticky, difficult to pour, and too thick to mix easily in a cocktail, thinning it out with hot water makes it a lot easier to work with. Mixing two parts honey to one-part water by weight yields good results, and this works out to about 1 cup honey to .75 cup boiling water.
Place honey in heat-proof container. Boil the water, then slowly add it to the honey, stirring to combine. Let syrup cool, pour into bottle, and store in refrigerator, where it will last for a few weeks.
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and 2 oz rum. A light white rum is the classic choice, but I like blending in some aged rum or funky Jamaican pot still rum, too. Then add .75 oz each honey syrup and freshly-squeezed lime juice. Shake, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and you&rsquove got the perfect springtime sour.
A freelance recipe developer and caterer who splits time between Nevada and Canada, Siem lost clients as companies slashed freelance budgets and events were canceled.
As a chef, people always ask me, &ldquoWhat&rsquos your favorite thing to eat? Truffles? Foie Gras? The perfect Paris baguette?&rdquo Nope. It&rsquos always been my mother&rsquos lasagna, made with my great grandmother&rsquos bolognese. It&rsquos not a fancy dish most of the main ingredients can be found in the canned food aisle, and not one of the three kinds of cheese is artisanal. And yet it&rsquos the only meal I ache for, the one meal I still ask my mother to make when I visit.
I spent my culinary career in New York City, working long, demanding hours. One day off a week was a luxury, holidays a concept for other people. But once or twice a year I scraped together a few days to go home. Before I got on the plane, my mother always asked, &ldquoDo you want a lasagna?&rdquo
I never seemed to go home when things were going well. Every visit came with an exhausting crisis: deciding whether or not to go to culinary school, figuring out how to live in Manhattan on a cook&rsquos salary, opening up my own bakery and later, deciding to sell it. I&rsquod work through these issues with my mother, the pan of lasagna, and a long nap.
Now, along with everyone else, I find myself navigating another crisis. All I seem to want is a few pounds of cheese, the smell of bolognese simmering on the stove, and to scratch a primal itch to nourish in a time of uncertainty. So I dust off a few cans, brown a little meat, and drink cupfuls of wine in the process, all in the hopes that with a little global rest and reflection, the answers will come. Makes 12 servings
Get ready: In a food processor, pulse 1 white or yellow onion, peeled and quartered, with 1 clove peeled garlic until the onion is finely minced and a little watery. (You can also dice by hand.) Warm a glug of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, then add onion mixture, 1 lb. lean ground beef (or 1 lb vegetarian substitute), 1 small can tomato paste (5.5 oz), 1 standard can tomato sauce (14.5 oz), .5 cup red or white wine, one jar sliced mushrooms (6 oz), including liquid, 1 Tbsp dried rosemary, 2 tsp dried oregano, 2 tsp dried thyme, 1 tsp ground cumin or cumin seeds, and a teaspoon or so of salt and pepper. Stir everything together, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile: Slice 1 lb block Jack cheese and 1 lb block mozzarella into quarter-inch thick slices. When the sauce has simmered, preheat the oven according to the lasagna noodle&rsquos package directions.
To bake: In a 13x9x3 inch baking pan, spread a little sauce across the bottom of the pan&mdashjust enough so the bottom of the pan isn&rsquot dry. Lay the lasagna noodles across the bottom of the pan so they are touching but don&rsquot overlap. Add a single layer of Jack, spreading a hefty sprinkle of parmesan and a few spoonfuls of sauce over the cheese. Repeat with another layer of noodles, mozzarella, parmesan, and sauce. Continue layering the lasagna, alternating mozzarella and Jack layers until you&rsquove used all the cheese. (Depending on pasta brand, you may have leftover noodles.) Top the lasagna with any extra sauce and another sprinkle of parmesan. Cover with foil and bake according to the noodle&rsquos package directions, removing the foil for the last 10 minutes. Let the lasagna cool for another 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
Massie worked as a bartender at a country club in Virginia. After initially seeing her shifts disappear, she worked at a beverage cart for golfers at the club and assisted with take-out orders for curbside pickup.
When I was younger, I would follow my mother around the kitchen while she cooked. I wanted to soak up her knowledge because she was, still is, the best cook I knew. My mom prepared food to have multiple servings for leftovers, which in turn made me resent having to eat the same meal again and again. The rule was that we had to eat whatever my mom prepared&mdashif we didn&rsquot like it, too bad. So I had a love/hate relationship with food. While I enjoyed eating, growing up bigger than my siblings made me very conscious of every bite I took. This led to a variety of fad diets and even bouts of starvation, and unfortunately turned me into quite the picky eater.
As an adult, I&rsquove learned to love my body and to give it food that I not only enjoy, but is good for me. I&rsquove become obsessed with Asian-inspired cuisine. There are so many flavors to experiment with, and it makes being a pescatarian who tries to steer away from dairy simpler. Usually I&rsquom in a rush, so I like to be able to prepare my meals in less than 45 minutes, which I know makes no sense right now considering I have unlimited time stuck at home. But I also want to prepare for when this is over. Serves 2
Slice 1 green bell pepper and 1 red bell pepper (or whatever colors you have&mdashit&rsquos a pandemic) into strips, and dice 1 yellow onion. Set all that aside. Begin the curry sauce by adding 2 Tbsp red curry paste, 2 Tbsp brown sugar, 1 tsp fish sauce and one can coconut milk (appx 13.5 ounce) to a small saucepan and whisk to combine, bringing to a low simmer over very low heat. Now pour about a capful of olive oil into a large skillet and sauté the vegetables over medium heat until they are softened and maybe even picking up a little color, about 3 minutes. Add 1 lb precooked shrimp and warm through, just about a minute. Mix in the red curry sauce and bring this mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Using a fully cooked quick rice (like Minute brand), pop two servings into the microwave for 90 seconds, transfer to serving dishes, and spoon red curry over the top.
Hood, a bartender at Paddy Long&rsquos in Chicago, was out of work when the bar closed.
Chicago winters are roughly six months, which, for a floral designer like my wife, is about five months too long. For us, these first warm days of spring are spent roaming the sidewalks of our favorite neighborhoods with a hidden to-go cup of wine or a cocktail.
From home, my wife continues to design the weddings we all hope will happen this year. As all bars and restaurants in Chicago are closed, I&rsquove kept my bartending muscles exercised by inventing or tweaking a cocktail a day. The first day it got above sixty, I opened the apartment windows, surveyed the bar for inspiration, and sitting next to the rye was a half-drunk bottle of Merlot from the previous night. Serves 1
Grab a cocktail shaker, add 2 oz Rye, .75 oz lemon juice (fresh if you have it), and .25 oz simple syrup. (To make simple syrup: Boil 1 cup water, take off heat and stir in 1 cup sugar to dissolve and let cool in the refrigerator.) Add ice and shake vigorously for 15 to 20 seconds. Double strain into a rocks glass, add large ice cubes leaving enough room at the top, and slowly float* about 1.5 oz red wine over a bar spoon.
*To float the wine, invert a wide spoon over the rocks glass (so the bowl faces down, like a little cap), then gently pour wine over the back of the spoon so it waterfalls onto the top of the cocktail. This creates a cascading effect from the light ochre of the shaken cocktail to the deep earthy red of the wine. Enjoy your Season Changer.
Detroit&rsquos Apparatus Room, where Burk was the bar manager, closed on March 15.
This recipe has been passed down from my Babcia, who learned it while standing on the stepstool, her head barely reaching above the soup pot, in her mother&rsquos kitchen in Poland. And while every household in my family knows how to make our family&rsquos beet borscht, there are slight variations. But the general consensus is the soup needs to be really red, and the last few bites enjoyed on a dunked-in potato-and-cheese pierogi.
Because it calls for such simple ingredients and can be made in such large batches, it&rsquos a soup I&rsquove been making constantly with beetroots from Eastern Market in Detroit and delivering to friend&rsquos doorsteps. For me, beet borscht is reminiscent of large family get-togethers with large portions of sausage, pierogi, and crusty bread. It&rsquos the first soup we make at the turn of the season in Michigan. We fill pitchers of it from large stock pots in my aunt&rsquos basement during big holidays, and place them at the center of the groups of tables. It&rsquos the first soup to be poured after Dzjaju recites a long Polish prayer, giving thanks for all of us being together. It&rsquos a soup that kept my family warm, happy, and together during the famines of war&mdashand one that now fills my home with warmth as we face the struggles of being displaced from our jobs and distanced from other loved ones. Serves 4-6
Rinse 3 medium beets (skins on) and place them in a pan of boiling water until tender. I stick a fork into the beets to test, and when the fork slides in and out with ease, they&rsquore ready. Strain beets from water and peel with a potato peeler. (Gloves are encouraged during this step to avoid beet stained fingertips for a few days.) Bring one quart chicken or veggie stock and one quart water to a boil, and while you&rsquore waiting, thinly slice the beets with a mandoline (using a 2cm blade). Add them to the stock. (You can also slice by hand&mdashaim to slice them about the thickness of a quarter.) Add 3 pinches of salt and reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes.
At the end of the 15 minutes, the soup will be a deep red, almost purple. Bring a separate pot of water to a boil and add 6 medium red-skin potatoes, cooking until tender. Strain the potatoes and set aside. In a small bowl, combine .25 cup flour and .25 cup water and whisk until smooth. This is called a roux and it is used to thicken the soup. Add roux to the beet soup, stirring frequently to avoid clumping, and simmer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, the soup will have shifted from the deep purple-red to a slightly lighter shade. Add 4 Tbsp white vinegar, stir, and remove soup from heat.
Cut the cooked potatoes in quarters, place in a medium bowl (or use the cooking pot) and add 1 cup sour cream, 1 Tbsp each dill and chopped chives, and mix until evenly distributed. Ladle a generous amount of herbed potatoes into a bowl and pour soup overtop.
Cohen had left his job as a barista at Nobu Malibu to care for his newborn son, and planned to return to Nobu or a new restaurant in March.
Friends, family, and most outdoor activities were removed from our lives this year, and even as they start to trickle back in, some things (water parks, sweaty dance clubs, contact improv) might not. So in these uncertain times, I&rsquod like to present us all with a simple constant. Banana pancakes.
Since the pandemic started, my partner has been working long hours from home every day, trying to help keep her small company afloat. I spend every moment of the day with an adorable and demanding baby boy glued to me, as I contemplate the shaky future of the restaurant industry.
Why are pancakes important right now, you ask?
Why are vacations important? Why are sunsets important? Because they make your life fuller. The more good moments that each of us gets, the better we&rsquore able to be to each other. If the day starts out with moments like feeding your toothless, beaming baby a little disk of joy, then I&rsquod say you&rsquore set for success. (Note: In case you&rsquore constantly holding another human being as well, this entire recipe can be prepared one-handed.)
This recipe is free of gluten, dairy, and eggs&mdashI gave up the animal products, and my soulmate is violently allergic to gluten&mdashso the pancakes&rsquoll sit light, meaning you can eat way too many and still feel okay. So go forth, my friends. Proliferate some Sunday morning vibes. Serves 4
First, go wash your hands a few more times. Next, melt .25 cup vegan butter or coconut oil and pour it into a mixing bowl with 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (the drinkable kind, not canned&mdashbut any milk substitute should work fine here even regular milk and regular butter will work). Next, add 1 cup unsweetened applesauce and 2 ripe bananas, and mash them with all the aggression that social isolation has given you, mixing your batter until it&rsquos nice and creamy.
Now for the oats: Take 2 cups rolled oats and grind them into a fine powder using a blender or food processor. Pour oats into batter along with a pinch of salt, 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon, and 1 Tbsp flax meal (Our goal is to get a nice thick mixture, so if you haven't got any flax, add an extra .25 cup of ground oats and let the batter sit a little longer during the next phase. This will allow the oats to absorb more of the moisture before you start cooking). Mix your batter into a beautiful and evenly beige paste, and if you're really trying to impress people, toss in some frozen berries and/or dark chocolate chips (dairy-free, if you want to keep them vegan). Do nothing to your velvety smooth batter for about 10 minutes (or 15, if you&rsquore missing your flax).
Crank the heat up high on your stove, grease a nonstick pan with some of that vegan butter/coconut oil, calm the flame down to medium heat, and go make some magic. Using a small ladle or tablespoon to drop the batter onto your pan lets you control the size of your pancakes and provides you with a creative outlet for a little artistic expression.
When your pancake has little bubbles all over, it's ready to flip. When it&rsquos caramel brown on both sides, it&rsquos ready for you.
I like to top these with jam, maple syrup, or smashed fruit, and sing Jack Johnson songs as loudly as I can during the entire process.
A graduate student at Northwestern University, Moberger was bartending to help pay his bills, but he lost his job during the shutdown.
Thank the booze gods that liquor stores are considered essential&mdashfor now, at least&mdashduring this COVID-triggered lockdown. And since many people are furloughed or working from home, now is the time to get creative with home cocktailing. The simplest way I get crafty with my mixed drinks is by throwing a little something extra in that simple syrup. Wing it. Seriously. Syrups are hard to (totally) screw up.
Start by bringing equal parts sugar and water to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Then, mix in whatever is in the fridge, freezer, cabinet, or spice rack. Frozen fruit works great. Try vanilla extract left over from your one baking experiment. To get more complicated, lightly toast some whole spices like cinnamon and cloves and anise, being very careful not to burn them, and then add them to the syrup. Accidentally dumped in too much fruit or vanilla extract? Cut it with more sugar. Too sweet? Add a little water. You only have to please yourself, so make everything to taste. Simmer the syrup on low heat for about 15 minutes so the flavors have plenty of time to infuse. Let the syrup cool, pour it through a fine strainer to remove solids, and start experimenting with cocktails. Serves 1
To get started, try my riff on the old fashioned that uses a vanilla syrup. Stir 2 oz mezcal (something smoky and smooth I like Sombra), .25 oz vanilla syrup, 1 dash Angostura bitters, and 2 dashes grapefruit or orange bitters with plenty of ice. Strain into an old fashioned glass. Drop in fresh ice or a big cube, if you have it (silicone big cube trays are only about $8 and worth every penny). Garnish with an orange peel.
Asian man, 80, beaten and robbed by teens near San Francisco
An 80-year-old Asian man was beaten to the ground and robbed by teenagers in San Leandro, a town near San Francisco in northern California.
Video shows the man calling for help as the teens assault him. In the footage from Saturday, one of the teens can be heard laughing. The suspects are between 16 and 19 years old, according to law enforcement.
San Leandro Police say that attacks perpetrated against Asian Americans rose by 283 per cent in 2020 compared to 2019.
A man who wants to be known only as “Marcos” captured the footage on his home security camera. He told ABC 7: “It's crazy to see kids that age doing that kind of stuff going down that road already.”
The town of San Leandro has seen a number of attacks on Asian Americans since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. In May 2020, a woman was caught on camera delivering letters directly to residents demanding that Asian people leave the country. In February of this year, an Asian man was attacked and robbed outside a bank.
Lt Ali Khan of the San Leandro Police Department told ABC 7 they were “shocked” when they got the results of a study looking at the demographics of crime victims.
“From 2019 to 2020 we saw an almost 300 per cent increase in crimes towards our Asian and Pacific Islander community members,” he said.
Lt Khan said he wasn’t certain how many of those violations were hate crimes but “numbers don’t lie”. He added that the department has raised the number of patrols and that they are collaborating with the District Attorney on how to deal with minors who are released but quickly commit another crime.
He said they are looking at measures “other than putting juveniles in jail”.
Marcos wants to see “more consequences. Because it seems to be ongoing . it's really the best thing that can happen so they can learn,” he told ABC 7.
Law enforcement said “detectives are pursuing all avenues of investigative leads”, but that there’s no indication that the 80-year-old Asian man who was attacked on Saturday was targeted because of his race.
He sustained minor injuries and was stripped of a watch and indicated to police that he thinks the crime was motivated by anti-Asian prejudice. Police say the juveniles took the man’s Fitbit after demanding that he give them his wallet.
A neighbour told NBC Bay Area: “He thought he was targeted for being Asian.”
Police say the suspects left because the man was calling out for help. They also said that a similar vehicle to that of the teens, a dark sedan, was seen as a woman was robbed of her purse in San Leandro within two hours of the attack on the Asian man.
Where Bay Area chefs take their out-of-town guests to eat
1 of 39 The peking duck from Great China in Berkeley.
2 of 39 Ryan McIlwraith (The Absinthe Group Executive Chef): Slanted Door
4 of 39 Jason Raffin (Comstock Saloon Chef de Cuisine): BIX
5 of 39 (Chef Raffin continued): Nopa
7 of 39 Corey Lee (Benu chef de cuisine): Great China
10 of 39 Jared Rogers (chef of Guesthouse): Chez Panisse
11 of 39 Ravi Kapur (chef of Liholiho Yacht Club): Rintaro
13 of 39 Suzette Gresham (co-owner and executive chef of Acquerello): Nightbird
14 of 39 (Chef Gresham continued): Kitchentown
17 of 39 George Dingle (chef de cuisine of Monsieur Benjamin): In-N-Out Burger
22 of 39 (Chef Scaramuzza continued): Benu
25 of 39 Buy Photo (Chef Torres continued): a Mano
26 of 39 (Chef Torres continued): Harris' Restaurant
28 of 39 Jake Kwan-Rosenbush (executive chef of Hardwood Bar & Smokery): House of Prime Rib
29 of 39 Francis Ang (chef of Pinoy Heritage): Colma Cafe (inside Lucky Chances Casino)
31 of 39 Jason Halverson (chef and partner of Hi Neighbor Group that oversee the group's four restaurants: Trestle, Corridor, Fat Angel and The Vault): La Ciccia
32 of 39 Buy Photo Alex Griffiths (Mina Group corporate chef): Brothers Restaurant
34 of 39 (Chef Griffiths continued): Deli Board
35 of 39 Anthony Strong (chef of PRAIRIE): Lai Hong Lounge
37 of 39 Jackson Yu (chef of Omakase): Ristorante Buon Gusto
38 of 39 Gayle Pirie (chef and co-owner of Foreign Cinema): Juanita & Maude
Click or swipe through the slideshow above to see where local chefs take out-of-town guests to eat in the Bay Area.
The next time your out-of-town friend says they&rsquore going to pay you a visit, don&rsquot panic. Just take note from a Bay Area chef.
We connected with local chefs to ask them which Bay Area restaurants they take their visitors to and the list doesn&rsquot disappoint. The responses were a mixture of big-name eateries, like Chez Panisse and The Progress, along with a few surprises. The chefs also shared what they love about each place.
There was one spot that garnered the attention of more than one chef. Corey Lee (of Benu), Michael Kim and Meichih Kim (of Maum) all said the restaurant they often take their out-of-town guests to is Great China, a Berkeley spot that&rsquos been around since 1985.
&ldquoObviously, the food has to be good but more than that, I think Great China is a model restaurant for our area &ndash a business opened by immigrants and improved by the next generation who stayed true to the core traditions they inherited but also embraced new techniques and local sensibilities,&rdquo said chef Lee.
As for the surprise picks, chef Francis Ang of Pinoy Heritage said that the spot he takes his out of town friends can be found inside the Lucky Chances Casino in Colma.
&ldquoWe always take out of towners to Colma Cafe in Lucky Chances Casino to get Filipino food [and] order Kare-Kare, an oxtail stew served with fermented shrimp paste.&rdquo Ang said. &ldquoThis is an OG spot for good staple Filipino Food.&rdquo
San Francisco Restaurant Workers Apparently Don't Always Want Health Care - Recipes
A virtual tip jar for restaurant workers that goes directly to the worker. Fill out if you are a restaurant worker.
Free Meals at DCPS
The District will provide meals to students on weekdays from Monday, March 16, through Tuesday, March 31, from 10 am – 2 pm.
DC approved expanded unemployment insurance.
Expanded unemployment insurance for DC workers.
DMV Service Industry Support Group
This group is a dedicated space for service industry workers to: vent, share resources/information, share stories and seek/provide community support. We know that service industry workers are suffering with cut shifts & hours, layoffs, accessing paid sick leave — all while being at the frontlines of the current pandemic.
DC Food Banks!
Food banks for people who live in DC.
Silver Diner at Rio and Real Food for Kids kicked off Chefs Feeding Families, a program to help feed needy families. Click here for more information on curbside delivered meals every weekday.
Beer hall Hook Hall has teamed up with Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington to create Hook Hall Helps, which puts together care packages of pivotal essentials (e.g. groceries, household supplies) and industry family meals for restaurant workers. Click here for the full schedule and for information on applying for unemployment benefits.
Hospitality Emergency Loan Program (HELP)
Restaurants can apply for financial assistance with Delaware’s newly implemented Hospitality Emergency Loan Program (HELP), which provides no-interest loans up to $10,000 for restaurants and bars.
Staplehouse in Atlanta is preparing takeaway meals for the food service community, Tuesday-Saturday. Email [email protected] with your name and current or former place of employment and preferred pickup time (between 1 and 2 p.m., or 2 and 3 p.m.).
Giving Kitchen provides emergency assistance to food service workers through financial support and a network of community resources.
Staplehouse Takeaway Meals
Staplehouse in Atlanta is preparing takeaway meals for the food service community, Tuesday-Saturday. Email [email protected] for more information.
All Illinois schools will be food distribution centers from 9am – 1pm and be able to pick up 3 days of food for all kids in the family. If anyone is in need of delivery, they can call 773-553-KIDS for emergency delivery.
Chicago Family Support Services Rent Assistance
The Emergency Rental Assistance Program provides financial assistance to Chicago residents, directly related to the prevention of homelessness, to eligible individuals and families who are in danger of eviction in order to stabilize individuals and families in their existing rental unit.
Unemployment benefits may be available to some individuals whose unemployment is attributable to COVID-19. IDES recently adopted emergency rules to try to make the unemployment insurance system as responsive to the current situation as possible.
City Colleges Information (Chicago)
Information regarding the City Colleges of Chicago and their response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Slow Food Chicago and Advocates for Urban Agriculture and Food:Land:Opportunity has just announced round two of grants for Chicagoland farmers affected by COVID-19. Applications are being accepted through May 29 for community gardens, farm businesses or collaborative projects, in amounts from $1,000-$10,000. Go to AUA’s website for details in English and Español.
Chicago-based non-profit Pilot Light, which partners chefs with schools to provide education on food and cooking, is paying chefs to create easy-to-follow educational cooking videos for families to watch at home. The series is called “Family Meal” if you’re interested, you can apply here.
Wage of consent
As a server in restaurants in two different states for roughly a year before losing my job to the pandemic, I can confidently say serving is the hardest job I've ever had in my life. And I've held down multiple jobs over my career — from radio reporter to organizer, flood-insurance adjuster, factory worker, and warehouse employee. I even ran a media company for several years.
My typical restaurant shift involved four to five hours of racing from the bar in clunky nonslip shoes to one my tables, to the dish room, then the kitchen, and then back into the dining room again — almost always with three or four credit cards sandwiched between my fingers from a table with separate checks, and almost always with a customer's order and specific substitutions threatening to flee my mind before I could get to the POS and type in their order.
During high-volume shifts, I could look up at any moment and expect to see the hostess seat five more tables in my section in the middle of the chaos, usually while one of my regulars engaged me in conversation. Sometimes, I did all this while training a new server. This was a frequent occurrence, given the high rate of turnover at restaurants (hospitality-sector turnover hovered near 75% in 2018). I did all this for the tipped minimum wage of $2.13 an hour, meaning my income was subject to the discretion of strangers judging me at how well I bent over backward for them each night.
Like 2.5 million other restaurant workers, I lost my job overnight not long after the World Health Organization designated COVID-19 a pandemic. Thanks to the CARES Act, the federal government expanded state safety nets by adding a supplemental $600 a week in unemployment benefits. While President Donald Trump allowed that extra benefit to expire in 2020, the most recent relief package passed by the Democratic-run Congress and the Biden administration put a $300-a-week benefit back on the table until September 6 for workers affected by the pandemic. There's no reason for workers to come back to their old jobs earning the same poverty wages, especially since more than 100 million Americans remain unvaccinated, and there's still a stable safety net in place until autumn.
It's not that unemployed restaurant workers don't want jobs — we just have more options now. In the manufacturing sector, where jobs typically come with higher pay and have higher rates of union representation, hiring is rapidly expanding at levels not seen in decades. Amazon, which pays a $15-an-hour minimum wage, added roughly half a million positions in the past year alone. The chief financial officer of Costco, which raised its minimum wage to $16 an hour, recently said the company had been "inundated" with job applications.
And it's important to remember that there are still more than 700,000 new applications for unemployment across the country each week (compared with a little over 200,000 before the pandemic), so jobs are still relatively scarce. The supplemental federal unemployment benefit is extremely necessary given how strained the US economy still is.
Being indoors and in close proximity to other people during a pandemic is dangerous work. Restaurant workers have a much higher chance of dying from COVID-19 than workers in other sectors, according to researchers at the University of California, San Francisco. And any restaurant worker who takes on a job risks losing it again as the virus continues to surge around the country.
Should another lockdown and subsequent wave of layoffs ensue, workers will have to start all over at the beginning of the labyrinthian unemployment-benefits system in their respective states. It makes far more sense, from both an economic and a health perspective, for workers to simply stay home, prevent the spread of the pandemic, and let unemployment benefits do what they're intended to: pay their bills over the coming months. This would allow for more Americans to get vaccinated, and it would let the restaurant industry compete for their labor by adapting to the times. In some cases, that adaptation is already taking place.
In May last year, one Philadelphia restaurant owner proposed a hypothetical menu with proportionally higher prices to account for paying staff a living wage and providing all of her workers with health insurance and other benefits.
Cooks would get a salary of $40,000, dishwashers would get a salary of up to $31,000, and servers would make $32 an hour (which I can personally confirm is typical for a busy night with customers who tip well), thus eliminating the need for customers to tip. Proposed changes like that have yet to materialize, but restaurant chains are already battling for workers by offering increased pay and benefits, proving that the concept of competition is bearing out exactly as the framers of the market economy intended.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Jimmy John's was now offering signing bonuses to new employees. Chipotle is offering to pay for its workers' college tuition if they stay on for at least four months and work at least 15 hours each week. Taco Bell managers are now being offered paid family leave, and the owner of multiple TGI Fridays franchises is increasing hourly workers' wages and offering cash incentives for new hires. McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski has already said that stores are doing "just fine" in states that increased their minimum wage to $15 an hour, which proves that paying workers well doesn't hurt business.
There's more than enough data to prove that employers in the hospitality industry are capable of withstanding changes that require them to be more competitive to appeal to workers. Restaurant owners who adapt to the new reality will thrive in the post-COVID-19 economy. The ones who refuse to change won't be missed.
'If We Don't Work, We Don't Get Paid.' How the Coronavirus Is Exposing Inequality Among America's Workers
T here are many things that worry Fina Kao about working in a busy donut shop in an age of fear about a spreading virus. The elderly customer who shuffles across the brown linoleum floor of the shop, orders a glazed donut, and then coughs. The parents sitting at a table sharing a breakfast sandwich as their small child touches the tables and the floor and the drinks fridge with her dirty fingers. The regulars who come in and who Kao knows travel annually to China&mdashone of whom proceeds to sit at the window and cut his fingernails. The fact that California now has 53 confirmed cases of coronavirus, more than any other state.
But Kao and her fellow workers at All Stars Donuts in the Richmond district of San Francisco don&rsquot have much choice but to show up to work, their only shield from potential coronavirus carriers a 24-ounce bottle of aloe hand sanitizer they&rsquove put near the register. Kao works five days a week from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. &ldquoIf we don&rsquot work,&rdquo says Kao, 31, &ldquowe don&rsquot get paid.&rdquo
While employees of companies like Twitter are being encouraged to work from home to protect themselves from the virus, known as COVID-19, people like Kao, whose jobs depend on in-person interaction, feel more exposed than ever. In this way, the spread of the coronavirus exposes a widening chasm in the U.S. economy between college-educated workers, whose jobs can be done from anywhere on a computer, and less-educated workers who increasingly find themselves in jobs that require human contact. Since 1980, as automation has spread in the workplace and companies have sent more jobs overseas, economists say the labor market has polarized, with employment growing in high-wage jobs that require a lot of education and in low-wage jobs that don&rsquot. Many of the low-wage jobs available are the type of non-routine service work that can&rsquot be automated or outsourced &mdashthings like cleaning an office, changing a diaper, delivering a package, cooking an omelet.
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Around 86 percent of U.S. workers are employed in service industry jobs, up from 68 percent in 1970, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. People in these non-routine, in-person jobs are already facing low pay, few benefits, and uncertain hours. Now, these workers are facing another challenge: &ldquoBecause workers in these positions often have substantial face-to-face customer contact, they face elevated coronavirus exposure risk if the virus spreads,&rdquo says David Autor, an MIT labor economist.
The nature of their work presents a significant economic risk, too, says Autor. Many of the fastest-growing jobs are low-paid and operate on shift work&mdashwhen customers aren&rsquot shopping, workers aren&rsquot getting hours. Some of the fastest-growing occupations in the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, are in-person jobs with low pay, including food preparation and serving workers, who make around $22,500 a year, and taxi drivers and chauffeurs, who make around $26,000. There are signs that companies that employ shift workers are in for a downturn: businesses such as Cedar Fair, which runs amusement parks, MGM Resorts, and Dave & Buster&rsquos, all of which depend on people leaving their houses and spending money, hit 52-week lows on the stock market Tuesday. Already, many workers are struggling to find enough hours&mdashfour in 10 part-time workers prefer more hours of work than they currently have, according to a February report released by the Center for Law and Social Policy.
The spread of the coronavirus has also highlighted the divide between workers who receive paid sick leave and vacation days, and low-wage workers who don&rsquot get paid if they have to take time off for illness. Just 47 percent of the bottom quarter of American wage-earners have access to paid sick days, compared to 90 percent of the top quarter, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank. Though some cities and states have mandated that employers offer paid sick leave, which research shows can help reduce the spread of infectious disease, even workers in those places sometimes can&rsquot make use of the benefit. That&rsquos because they work for multiple employers, which means they can&rsquot accrue leave from one employer. Low-wage workers without paid sick leave are often reluctant to skip work, even if they are ill, since they need the money Four in ten workers said they could have difficulty covering a $400 emergency expense, according to a 2019 Federal Reserve survey.
Nancy Harvey, a childcare provider in Oakland, does not currently accrue sick days, nor do the four people she works with. Yet working with children puts her at risk, she says: &ldquoWe interact with little people that get in our laps and sneeze in our faces,&rdquo she says. The parents whose children she watches travel frequently, she says, and her co-workers commute on public transportation. To avoid getting sick, Harvey stocked up on Lysol and started sanitizing crayons and cots. A parent who is a pediatrician sent her information on how to prevent coronavirus from spreading, which she handed out to other parents and colleagues. But Harvey, who is among a group of California childcare providers trying to form a union, says that more support for people like her is necessary, including backup care and more information on how childcare providers can keep themselves safe.
One growing cohort of workers who only get paid when they show up in person and don&rsquot have access to paid sick days are gig economy workers such as Uber and Lyft drivers and delivery drivers for apps like Postmates and Doordash. People like Victor Regidor, a 42-year-old Uber driver in San Jose, are continuing to work while protecting themselves as much as possible. Regidor bought a giant tub of Lysol wipes and a mask and now scrubs down the door handles and seats if he transports someone who is coughing or sneezing. He worries when he picks people up from the airport, since he doesn&rsquot know where they&rsquove traveled from and if they&rsquove been coughed on. He doesn&rsquot know what he&rsquoll do if people stop going out&mdashit&rsquos been hard to find another steady job. &ldquoPeople are being normal right now,&rdquo he says, &ldquobut it seems like only a matter of time before they stop going out at all.&rdquo
Companies such as Uber and Lyft have sent messages to workers encouraging them to sanitize their cars and wash their hands frequently. But the spread of the illness has prompted calls from worker advocates for companies and the government to do more for employees with few protections, including raising their wages so that a day off isn&rsquot such a financial hardship. &ldquoMoments of crisis are important times to look at our values and see where there are gaps in our current policies,&rdquo says Julie Kashen, senior policy advisor at the National Domestic Workers Alliance, which is organizing domestic workers such as house cleaners, nannies, and home care aides. &ldquoEveryone in the care workforce is underpaid, and there needs to be a rethinking of the way we value care.&rdquo
Silicon Valley Rising, which calls for better protections for low-wage tech workers, asked employers to include sub-contracted and service workers in their coronavirus response plans, and it emphasized the importance of paid sick days and healthcare coverage for all workers. Working Washington, which advocates for low-wage workers in that state, wants employers to allow workers to &ldquogo negative&rdquo on sick time&mdashuse sick days even if they haven&rsquot accrued any&mdashand to waive policies that may require a doctor&rsquos note for people to use sick time. United for Respect, which is trying to organize Walmart workers, has called for Walmart to publicly guarantee that associates won&rsquot be fired for staying home or taking care of an ill family member. &ldquoWe shouldn&rsquot have to fear losing our jobs or not qualifying for a bonus if we decide to stay home with the virus,&rdquo said Melissa Love, a Walmart employee, in a statement.
Ironically, if the coronavirus continues to spread, companies may try to accelerate the automation of some jobs so they don&rsquot have to depend on workers, says Ken Goldberg, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley who studies automation and AI. In Israel, robots are taking the temperatures and vital signs of patients who may have the coronavirus and helping doctors diagnose them from another room. Employers in fields like agriculture and food preparation, and in warehouses, are already struggling to find enough workers in a tight economy, Goldberg says&mdashthe coronavirus could persuade them to stop looking for humans and embrace machines. So far, robots have not been able to successfully replace manual labor&mdashthey are too clumsy to do things like clear a table or pick up a child&mdashbut employers may try to introduce them into places like warehouses and agriculture, where the technology is more advanced. &ldquoIf people are sufficiently quarantined, that&rsquos going to push that demand for robots that can do certain jobs,&rdquo he says.
Already, in China, Goldberg says, restaurants sit empty while demand for food delivery booms. This is likely to happen in the U.S. as well. Goldberg, who co-founded a startup, Ambidextrous, that is working on software that will help robots grasp almost any object, says he thinks that the more the coronavirus spreads, the faster e-commerce will grow, and the more companies will turn to robotics for their needs.
People who do gig economy jobs, such as Amazon delivery workers, are already seeing an uptick in demand as customers move to limit their exposure by ordering in. Neil Randall, who delivers for Amazon Flex near Sacramento, California, and his fellow delivery drivers are delivering packs of bottled water and bags of rice to worried customers. At first, Randall was concerned that he might be exposed to coronavirus by touching the items he was delivering, but he read some World Health Organization guidance that indicated coronavirus couldn&rsquot survive long on objects like packages. As he delivers more doomsday supplies, Randall says, his worry level has gone down: increasingly, customers have asked him to just drop things off at their front door, with no signature required, or any human interaction.