Empty Kitchen, Full Hearts
Empty Kitchen, Full Hearts is a plan to build a safe, hygienic kitchen to deliver meals in the midst of this crisis. Lewis McLachlan a 28-year-old chef, explains the plan for a chef’s coop here:
Now we are left with a government who seriously debated economic growth over public wellbeing, prevaricating over the best plans to contain Covid-19. Only in the last week or so do we see government action with the instruction to avoid pubs, clubs and restaurants and after a week of bleeding from that gut wound, they were finally mandated to close. The impact of this on the hospitality industry has obviously been catastrophic, businesses are collapsing, staff made redundant, with the full venality of corporate greed as we witnessed from Britannia Hotels in Aviemore sacking staff and evicting them from their accommodation effective immediately because, hey the bottom line counts when you’re a tax sheltering corporation that wants to keep your shareholders in fresh luxury villas.
All this past week, I’ve heard from desperate friends around the country who have been made redundant, kicked out, nowhere to go, finding themselves abandoned and feeling unwelcome in the place they made home. The mental health issues I wrote about above have just been violently turned up to eleven.
So to the now. I look around my neighbourhood and see older folk terrified to nip out to the shops to grab some basic essentials to keep them alive for the next 12 weeks, then there’s the homeless in Edinburgh, the people who have experienced social isolation on a daily basis since first they slumped down exhausted on an Edinburgh pavement. The people’s whose eyes we avoid when we see them wrapped in tattered sleeping bags on just about every city thoroughfare, how can we expect them to self-isolate any further? They can no longer bargain for a toastie and tea with the change they have collected because now, there is neither any café or change. Even the everyday punter will struggle, hiding behind a fortress of toilet paper, how will they feed themselves?
Here’s how. Me and my friends have the skills to cook delicious, affordable food, the knowledge of deep cleaning that would scare off the nastiest of viruses and the desire to feed our elderly neighbours, the homeless and the vulnerable. We want to take over a commercial kitchen, deep clean it, install a rigorous hygiene regime and start doing what we do best, cook. We are not looking to set up a profiteering restaurant with a menu of dishes from around the world, more cook and construct takeaway bags containing a breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner, in environmentally friendly packaging, that you can take home and reheat with just a kettle and either a microwave or a hob.
We’re calling out to restaurant owners who have had to lock up and let staff go, suppliers with stock that will only last so long and kitchen staff to join us. The packs will be exchanged on a donate-what-you-can basis with a probable suggested donation of £5 (not bad for 3 hot meals). There will be no Head Chef getting rich, no Kitchen Porter being trod on, This will be a chef’s cooperative where everyone does all the jobs and gets back what the team puts in. If you’re thinking this is a way to cash in…politely, sling yer hook.
Since launching our fundraiser on Friday we have received a generous offer from a great community kitchen, collected a number of food donations and 29 incredibly generous souls, many of whom don’t even live in Scotland, have donated over £900 to our start-up costs. Ignoring running costs this would be enough for over 500 of the day packs I’ve mentioned, but with 3,229 applications for homelessness status in the City of Edinburgh last year alone before the chaos that is being caused by COVID-19 we have so many more in need of help. Our hope is that these can be distributed free of charge and ideally we can establish a network of kitchens or hubs to help reheat them for consumption. For this to be viable we need donations of food products and cash; chefs who want to keep their hands and minds active and kitchens that can help us prepare and store these meals.
As we build this, please get in touch with us online by visiting our Facebook page where we can provide you with more details.
Most importantly donate what you can here.
Or if you’re the generous kind of folk who recognise a good idea when you see one and want to help out those in desperate need please pay directly to: