Celebrity chef Ming Tsai has joined the growing number of restaurants and chefs offering meals to federal workers who haven’t been paid for over a month.
The 800,000 government workers haven’t received a paycheck in 35 days and counting.
Federal employees have been lining up for his Shutdown Dumplings since Monday at Tsai’s Blue Dragon restaurant in Boston. He’s offering the dumplings for free to anyone who shows a government ID.
“The idea to offer Shutdown Dumplings came from the idea that the restaurant industry is one big family,” Tsai told HuffPost. “Shutdown Dumplings came to be because we wanted to give back to government employees affected by the shutdown in a way that we knew how ― through food.”
Tsai says he was inspired by his friend and fellow chef Jose Andrés, who opened up a World Central Kitchen and pantry in Washington D.C. to help feed the thousands of government workers. Andrés founded his nonprofit after a hurricane devastated Puerto Rico to feed the island’s residents. Since then, WCK has moved on to feed victims of other disasters, including the victims of the California wildfires.
Andrés reached out to Tsai after announcing #ChefsForFeds would go national in a tweet he posted last Saturday.
“We believe this is a national food emergency,” Andrés said. Restaurants across the nation have joined the movement after hearing Andrés’ appeal.
“Count me in,” said Tsai when contacted by #ChefsForFeds. “How can I not?”
“If all of us chefs do a fraction of what José and World Central Kitchen has accomplished, the world will be a better place,” Tsai said. “I am blessed I have the capacity and team to do my small part.”
Several other Boston area restaurants have joined Tsai’s efforts.
Mei Mei launched its #ChefsForFeds offer Tuesday (Jan. 23). “Our plan as of right now is between 2 to 7 p.m. every day, we’re going to be offering $15 off a meal with a federal ID, and we’re going to be able to do that for up to 20 meals per day,” restaurant cofounder Irene Li tells the Herald.
“We are very much a community-oriented business, and we work with a lot of community organizations that focus on hunger,” says Li. “Any time there’s an opportunity for us to be feeding people who are for whatever reason not able to pay . . . we’re really happy about that. What’s nice in this case is that feeding furloughed workers is not a particularly partisan issue. It’s a clearly positive thing to do regardless of your political beliefs. It’s not that often we get to do something that’s relevant to politics but not inherently politically charged.”
Andrés has been nominated for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for his work with World Central Kitchen; originally from Spain.
The first #ChefsForFeds kitchen opened at the ThinkFoodLab at 701 Pennsylvania Avenue NW last Wednesday. World Central Kitchen announced it had served 4,400 meals in the first day. The Hill reported that 5,500 meals were served on Thursday, followed by 6,488 on Friday.
“Isn’t it ironic,” Tsai tells HuffPost. “Eight thousand people . . . were fed in D.C. because the president wants to build a wall to keep out immigrants, but an immigrant is feeding your federal employees.”
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This morning, I had the opportunity to visit @wckitchen, where I helped @chefjoseandres and the #ChefsForFeds team serve food to federal workers who have been forced to go without pay during the #TrumpShutdown. With roughly 800,000 workers about to miss their second paycheck this week, moments like this leave us grateful for everyone lending a helping hand. With every passing day, it becomes more urgent that @realDonaldTrump stop holding Americans’ paychecks hostage and #EndTheShutdown.
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