Welcome to the ninth in a series that introduces the remarkable food and beverage experiences of a very strange year. In the spirit of the holiday season, it’s also a very special collaboration between Saskatoon Press food writers and Saskatoon Food Finder, the online publication founded by former Saskatoon Press restaurant critic and food editor Phaedra Cook. This ninth edition covers some of the important organizations that helped hospitality workers survive this difficult year. Part 10 will examine some of the innovative changes restaurants have made to survive the pandemic.
Preferred financial support for the hotel industry
Southern Smoke Foundation: In a year when the thousands of laid-off hotel workers in Saskatoon (or millions across the country) received little financial support, the fact that this fund was already set up to help was a major boon. Backed by the star power of celebrity chef Chris Shepherd, the charity was not only effective as a donation machine, but also as a scalable model. In August the organization, which was largely staffed by ex-restaurant and bar employees, was asked to set up a similar distribution mechanism for hotel workers in Chicago. As of November 9, the Southern Smoke Fondation had spent over $ 3,679,089 to those in need in the hospitality industry during the pandemic. Now that the New York-based celebrity chef David Chang won $ 1 million for the Southern Smoke Foundation for Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. The organization stands ready to help even more hospitality workers in the United States. – Phaedra Cook, Editor and Publisher, Saskatoon Food Finder
Favorite food support for the hospitality industry
An example of a Saskatoon Shift Meal Care Package being distributed to unemployed members of the Saskatoon hospitality industry. This had contributions from Rainbow Lodge, Phat Eatery, Ninja Ramen, Morningstar, and the Saint Arnold Brewing Company.
Photo by Alex Au-yeung.
Saskatoon Shift Meal: After the restaurant’s dining rooms and bars closed in March due to the pandemic, thousands of hotel workers in the Saskatoon area were unemployed or less worked. Those who had done so much to feed the Saskatoonians after Hurricane Harvey suddenly had trouble feeding themselves. However, Saskatoon hotel professionals know how to take care of themselves. Two volunteers behind Hurricane Harvey help the Midtown Kitchen Collective – Sommelier Cat Nguyen and PR specialist Jonathan Beitler – started a new nonprofit company called Saskatoon Shift Meal. The initiative tied sponsorship dollars with restaurants willing to prepare meals for restaurant and bar staff on leave. Although the organization is no longer active as long-term needs have shifted, it provided nearly 20,000 meals to those in need. – – David Leftwich, Associate Editor, Saskatoon Food Finder
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