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Detroit Writers Recognize Members of the Food Community That Stepped in to Help People in Need in 2020

During some of the most difficult moments of this year, hospitality workers helped keep people fed

Chef Phil Jones wears a beanie and a mask while lifting a turkey out of the oven and onto a metal table.
Chef Phil Jones helped coordinate Thanksgiving meal prep and distribution alongside numerous local restaurants and chefs.
David Rudolph [Courtesy photo]
Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

As is tradition at Eater, we closed out 2020 by surveying local food writers and our own staff on various restaurant-related topics, and publishing their responses throughout the week. Next up: Was there one restaurant in particular that you felt really stepped up for your local community? How did they do so?

Serena Maria Daniels, Founder and Editor, Tostada Magazine:

Saffron De Twah definitely stepped up this year. Chef Omar was among the very first to see that doing business as usual, trying to reconfigure as a takeout or delivery restaurant was not going to work. He’s provided probably thousands and thousands of meals to communities throughout the year and he continues to do so during the holidays. I expect he’s figuring out what works to this end and will continue to be of service in the coming year.

Mark Kurlyandchik, Restaurant Critic, Detroit Free Press:

Lots of chefs and other members of the local food community have stepped up in these times and I hesitate to even single anyone out, but the leadership Stephen Roginson at Batch Brewing Company has shown over the last few weeks has been really admirable. He reached out to me last month as the second shutdown loomed asking if I knew of any centralized organization helping struggling restaurant workers. When I told him there wasn’t one that I knew of, he decided to basically create it himself, organizing pay-what-you-can meals to both feed and raise funds for folks. He’s not the only one, obviously, but it’s heartening to see.

Melody Baetens, Restaurant Critic, The Detroit News:

So many! There was a ton of support for the community from restaurants and chefs, even as they struggled with uncertainty, especially early on. We saw Saffron de Twah really evolve and pivot quickly throughout the year in ways that best served their community and kept their employees and customers safe. I also like that Michigan & Trumbull launched their “good corner” menu section that gave a few hundred bucks each month to a local nonprofits, even while they were insure how they were going to survive having just opened their brick and mortar before the pandemic.

Zahir Janmohamed, Co-Founder, Racist Sandwich:

Saffron De Twah’s community kitchen.

Brenna Houck, Editor, Eater Detroit:

Honestly, too many to name. It’s been incredible watching the development of Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen For Good, which had amazing contributions from chefs like Max Hardy, Phil Jones, Ederique Goudia, and so many more. Saffron De Twah really showed up to make sure people were take care of with its community kitchen initiative. That’s not to mention all the organizations working to take care of service workers from Batch Brewing Company’s Feelgood Tap to Split Base Detroit.

Mickey Lyons, Freelance Writer, Eater:

From the very beginning of the pandemic, Erica at Pietrzyk Pierogi was thinking on her feet. Her Pay It Forward pierogi boxes were a great idea: a way to keep income flowing but also take care of restaurant employees. Who doesn’t want a free pierogi on a rough day?

Go Tip ‘Em was a fun way to keep in touch with and support my favorite bar staff over the months. Open a carryout cocktail from Painted Lady, close my eyes and scroll through the Michigan section of names, and send a random tip to someone!

Batch Brewing used the power of the Feelgood Tap to support restaurant workers. They brought other restaurants under the tent — literally — to host pop-ups in safe outdoor spaces they might not have had access to. A truly collaborative effort.

All Year in Eater Coverage [ED]

Pietrzyk Pierogi

1429 Gratiot Avenue, , MI 48207 (313) 614-9393 Visit Website

Michigan & Trumbull

1441 West Elizabeth Street, , MI 48216 (313) 637-4992 Visit Website


1777 3rd Avenue, , MI 48226 (313) 465-1234 Visit Website

Saffron De Twah

7636 Gratiot Avenue, , MI 48213 (586) 359-6138 Visit Website