We checked in with 15 chefs and restaurant owners around L.A. Here’s what they told us:
Restaurants are facing unprecedented hardship during the coronavirus pandemic, and chefs and restaurant owners are getting creative to keep active and afloat — whether they’re offering takeout and delivery for the first time or transitioning into selling provisions and groceries, all have had to adapt quickly and dramatically. (Check out our guide to restaurants offering takeout and delivery.)
For safety reasons, we’re not able to bring cameras into restaurant kitchens right now. So I asked a handful of chefs and restaurant owners to send us homemade videos — taken at their restaurants, trucks, in their homes or on the street. I asked them what they were up to and what else they wanted to say.
I just wanted to send an encouraging message of strength, love and empathy through this extremely tough time we’re facing. I’ve definitely seen a lot of humanity at play in Los Angeles, and it’s beautiful.
Orsa & Winston, Bäco Mercat, Bar Amá, Amacita
I’m dyeing some sweatshirts for our GoFundMe to help raise money for our employees so that we can continue their health insurance for a couple more months while we figure everything out.… A couple days a week I’m working with a nonprofit group called Dine-1-1 that was formed just last week. Its focus is making to-go meals for the ER staff that are inundated with everything that’s going on. Just doing our part to try to help in any way we can.
Armando De La Torre Jr.
Find ways to stay focused on your craft, keep learning and be present. If there’s anything we’re all getting right now it’s the ability to be present with our family. Don’t embrace fear; promote strength.... Don’t forget to call your mama.
Justin De Leon
I’ve always loved what I do and as of recently, I feel like it’s the most sacred thing that I do. We are so grateful to keep our doors open. While I know many of our brothers and sisters aren’t as fortunate, I know passion and support for one another will help us get through this together.
Bring wisdom and strength to healthcare workers. Comfort those who have lost a loved one, and those who have died may they find peace. Stabilize our communities. Unite us in compassion. Remove all fear from our hearts. Fill us with faith and confidence.
We are filling our first grocery pick-up for Feed Love L.A. And there’s Leah. [To Leah Bunch, director of operations:] Leah, show me your cans! [Leah holds up cans of tomatoes.]
I just want to thank every single one of you who has taken the time and effort to support our restaurant.... It’s made us extremely happy to see everyone cook with our mole and cook out of our cookbook and see our recipes come to life all over the country. It’s been amazing, incredible and I want to thank you so, so much.
I hope you guys are doing good. I know there’s a lot of people without a job. We’re lucky that we are here. We’re serving orders to go, we’re practicing social distancing, which everybody should be doing.
Porridge + Puffs
We’ve made drastic changes to our restaurant space as well as our daily routine. First and foremost we want to make sure our team is safe and healthy physically and mentally. But like everyone else, this pandemic has left us in a strange lonely state of chaos. Thank goodness we have each other and find solace in cooking and serving our community.… We make space to pack food for front-liners, first responders, and those passing out meals to kids.
Every $5 you spend on the Gold meal set (named after J. Gold, of course) goes to us feeding those helping others. We’re so grateful for Dine-1-1 for helping us with this effort. Go search them up and give them a hand so we can keep doing what they’re doing. We hope to feed you soon; in the meantime, stay safe, be fearless not fearful. Let’s get through this by caring for one another.
Alfredo and Merced Villegas
Los Originales Tacos Arabes de Puebla
[Translated from Spanish:] We’re still here, continuing to work. We’re hoping you will continue to support us. Together, we’ll get ahead of this situation. Thank you for your support, from Los Originales Tacos Arabes de Puebla.
Mama’s Chicken and Market
During these challenging times, I find I can be creative by keeping our customers coming even though they can’t dine. So a good thing to do is get a colorful banner that promotes the fact we’re still open and will encourage them to come in for takeout orders. Specials. Phone orders. So let’s get busy and go!
Thank you, all customers who support and helping us on week 3, day 5. You know, we survive because of the love. I want to say hi to all the chefs in Los Angeles, brother, sister chefs. Hang in there, you know? It’s so hard, all of it’s so hard but believe me, miracle in this world. We will pass the pinnacle together.
Our industry clearly has been so rocked. There are so many people out there coming up with creative, inventive ways to keep themselves busy, to stay in the game, to keep their people employed.… If there’s a way for you to contribute, go ahead and do it. Things will get better.
Banh Cuon Luu Luyen
We’re still working hard and we want to say keep safe, make sure you’re washing your hands, and social distance is very important to stop the spread of the coronavirus. If you want us to bring your to-go orders out to your cars, we can do that as well; just let us know. Give us a call.
Hail Mary Pizza
A simple thanks to everyone who’s doing their part to get us through this, whatever part that may be. I have so much gratitude for being here in L.A. at this moment in time, and everyone else that’s here as well.
Eat your way across L.A.
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