Scott Craig, CEC, CCA, WCMC, Director of Culinary Operations for Myers Park CC, is assembling a mobile kitchen and network of volunteer chefs throughout the Southeast to provide relief for those in need following a disaster.
Many hands make light work, and there has never been a time when we needed each other more than right now.
Working in the community was ingrained in me from an early age, as my dad was a first responder and a founding member of his volunteer fire department. My earliest memories are of firehouses, interrupted meals and waiting up for my dad to return from late-night calls.
My own life took me in a different direction, becoming an ACF certified Executive Chef, WACS Certified Master Chef, and member of the 2020 US National Culinary Olympic Team. All the skills I’ve gained over the past 20 years have come to bear during the COVID-19 crisis, as our extraordinary culinary team and I seized the opportunity to aid our community. We provided thousands of meals to multiple charities in Charlotte, as well as to medical professionals on the front lines of the battle against the pandemic. We leveraged our purchasing ability to help support 25 different farms in North Carolina when they needed it most. (Read More: How Myers Park CC Is Responding to Coronavirus and Myers Park CC Releases Post-COVID-19 Playbook)
I have realized, during this COVID-19 health crisis, that we don’t have time to wait for someone else to make our world better or safer. We need to meet the challenges of our times, head on, with a spirit of generosity and compassion for our fellow human beings.
I am working to create the Southeast Emergency Response Network, a network of professional chefs and vendor partners throughout the region so that we can quickly react to disasters and provide immediate relief to emergency responders and displaced citizens. While I am currently focused on my own region, I hope that this initiative will result in a blueprint which can be easily replicated throughout the country.
When a community is in need, our mobile kitchen will head out with meals prepped, chilled, and placed in cryovac. We will set up at the direction of the local fire department, and retherm meals with immersion circulators and a fresh component from a propane griddle. A pickup of bottled water and fresh ingredients will be made in coordination with local, in-network chefs and our vendor partners.
The first unit of our network will be outfitted to provide 450 meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner for 150 people. Meals will be safely prepared by culinary professionals who are outfitted to cook wherever they are needed. Our units will also provide cell phone charging banks as well as Wi-Fi coverage, so that responders and citizens can stay connected with loved ones while they work towards recovery. We will work with grocery stores to provide gift cards to families in the community so that they can continue to have nourishment even after we have pulled up stakes.
Another passion of mine, as a chef, has been to pass along knowledge whenever possible for the betterment of our craft and our professionals. I have had the opportunity to speak at national engagements, compete and judge in competitions both nationally and internationally, freely offer classes to peers, and most recently, to author and disseminate our COVID-19 reopening playbook which has been downloaded over 900 times.
In the spirit of furthering our craft while assisting communities recover from disaster, I am proud to offer a database to my peers, for a donation of $275, which contains over 1,000 of my files, comprised of tested recipes, detailed spec sheets, classes, presentations, costing templates, photos, and more.
At this point in our battle against COVID-19, many of us are facing cancelled conventions and competitions, have restrictions placed on our travel, and our plans for continuing education in general have become dashed. I hope that this Dropbox represents an opportunity to explore new techniques and recipes, new menu items, new ways of tracking costs as we face limited revenue, and inspiration for the days when our dining rooms are full once again.
To make this mission a reality, I need your help. Please donate to the Southeast Emergency Response Network so that we can build the infrastructure to help communities recover. This is only the beginning of what I hope will become powerful network of peers, ready to come together to lift up communities in need with their expertise and their will to make a difference.