Metro Detroit chefs gather to serve Thanksgiving meal to those in need

By 11 a.m. Monday inside the Detroit Shipping Co. in Midtown, the food platters, chefs and volunteers were ready.

Steam was rising from the roast turkey breast platter. The red-skinned mashed potatoes and cornbread dressing were also hot and ready, along with steamed broccoli, cranberry chutney, and a platter of vegetable spring rolls.

At another nearby table, a team of volunteers wrapped slices of pumpkin pie in individual containers.

Over 30 volunteers gathered for Full Plates, Full Hearts which took place at the Detroit Shipping Co.

Now in its fourth year, the event is a collaborative effort of the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association, the Detroit Restaurant & Lodging Association, and the Detroit Shipping Co.

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Volunteers have prepared over 500 individual Thanksgiving meals for those in need. Individual meals were distributed to those who came from the surrounding community. Volunteers have also delivered hundreds of meals to several local nonprofits including Alternative for Girls, Cass Community Social Services, Coalition on Temporary Shelter (COTS) and Neighborhood Service Organization.

For the first two years, people came and sat down for a meal on Thanksgiving Day. This practice ended, of course, with the pandemic.

Jon Hartzell, owner of Detroit Shipping Co., remembers that first year well.

“Someone walked in and started crying and said, ‘I didn’t know we were allowed to be in a place like this,'” Hartzell recalls. “It hits you very hard to the heart. It wasn’t just that dinner. But he also saw people who represented who he was. It was really important. So he accompanies us every year.

The name of the initiative, Hartzell said, reflects the spirit of the purpose behind it: “Let’s fill the plates and it comes from our hearts. It’s not fancy food, it’s chef-led meals where the chefs go out and cook for themselves.

“It fills your heart to know that you are doing more than just donating,” Hartzell said. “You give of your time and something about yourself and you interact with people in your community and that really matters.”

This is the third year that Genevieve Vang, owner of Bangkok 96 Street Food at Detroit Shipping Co. and Bangkok 96 in Dearborn, has participated.

It’s important, she said, because it’s about giving back to the community and making a difference.

“Everyone does little things and it helps the whole community,” Vang said. “It’s not just one person, it’s the whole team.”

It is also the third time that chef Maxcel Hardy has participated. Hardy is the owner of COOP Caribbean Fusion in Detroit Shipping Co. and Jed’s Detroit, a pizza place and wing. He made cranberry chutney, cornbread dressing and gravy.

“Giving back is always fun and knowing it has an impact,” said Hardy.

During the pandemic, Hardy helped start the Too Many Cooks In the Kitchen for Good initiative and linked it to his ongoing One Chef Can 86 Hunger initiative, stepping up a gear to feed those in need.

“It’s always important for us to be able to come back to the community and see how we can use all the restaurants… to feed the homeless and less fortunate while on vacation,” said Hardy. “It’s really a blessing for us to be able to do. It’s part of the way of life for me. But it’s really inspiring to come back into the community and help.”

Giving back to the city is the purpose of the event for Petro Drakopoulos, event planner and owner of Republica in Berkley and executive chef and foodservice manager for the Atheneum Suite Hotel. In 20 years, he said, it will continue to be powerful.

“This city is amazing. Every day it gets better and it is done through the sweat, blood and tears of the hard working people who are in the city. That’s why you need to organize events like this, ”he said. “The city has given us so much, now is the time to give back because I believe it is a very important principle in life. support him. And Detroit is together and we will be strong together. “

The other participating chefs were Anjani Lama from Momo Cha and Jay Souilliere from Motor Burger. The event also included the distribution of hundreds of individually wrapped gloves, hats, combs and toothbrushes, deodorant and toothpaste packets, donated by the Grand Truck Pub downtown.

Contact Detroit Free Press Culinary Editor Sue Selasky and send food and restaurant news to: 313-222-6872 or selasky@freepress.com. Follow @SusanMariecooks on Twitter.

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