In March, Melissa Miranda from the new Beacon Hill Restaurant Musang, Chera Amlag from Hood Famous Bakeshop, enterprising local cook Tarik Abdullah, Kristi Brown and Damon Bomar from That Brown Girl Cooks !, Sugar Hills guitar Srisuthiamorn and Cameron Hanin from the popular Guerrilla Pizza Kitchen Popup founded the Seattle Community Kitchen Collective to ensure people in need can get a hot meal seven days a week without asking questions. Miranda told us how it all came together.
As Musang closed, I started talking to people – like my partner, he works as a teacher on the Federal Way. Before the school system closed, so many children relied on two meals a day. My team called, we’re doing a communal kitchen and find out as we go. People donated money, products, non-perishable goods, containers. The number of people who needed food increased every day. This couple collects family meals from Maple Leaf Elementary twice a week. There is a flower shop in the university district that offers meals for the homeless. Other people just call.
I am very close to these cooks. We were all on a text thread and saw that we were all thinking the same thing. We thought if we had a collective we could serve people every day. We’d all met with nonprofits like FareStart, so our minds and hearts were aligned.
In Musang, Community Kitchen serves 200 people a day. Every week my team saw what we have and put together a menu that extends what we have. One day we baked potatoes and chilli; Today it’s lamb meatballs banh mi with tomatoes and cabbage. Last week we had lamb ragu with sautéed greens. It’s fresh every day; It’s different every day. We want this food to be nutritious and healthy.
Everyone in the collective is really creative [like selling] A meal kit and percentage goes to the Community Kitchen program so we don’t have to rely on donations. We want to find a sustainable model for building an actual business and eventually maybe a place where we feed people every day of the week.
When we reopen, we have carte blanche to rethink what we’re doing. Restaurants will never run like this. The model is so fragile already, but it has been a blessing to be forward-looking and just be creative and think about what we can do to keep both of these up? – as Allecia Vermillion was said to be.