Michelin-Starred Restaurant Shuttered by COVID-19 Reopens as 'Commissary Kitchen' to Cook Meals For New York's Neediest

A Michelin-starred restaurant in New York City, forced to close due to the coronavirus pandemic, has been resurrected as a "commissary kitchen" to help feed medical workers and underprivileged New Yorkers.

The Eleven Madison Park restaurant in Manhattan's Flatiron District, named the world's best restaurant in 2017, closed in mid-March alongside other city eateries as officials struggled to contain the novel virus that has so far killed 1,867 in New York state and 7,159 nationwide.

The three Michelin-starred restaurant is now making more than 2,000 meals every day for hospital staff and in-need citizens. Chef Daniel Humm, who heads the Make it Nice hospitality group, said "the most important thing" in the current climate is supporting "healthcare workers on the frontlines of this battle and those struggling to survive it," according to Robb Report magazine.

Humm is working with non-profit Rethink Food and American Express to reach those in need, having already fundraised $50,000 to support restaurant staff unable to work because of the pandemic.

Former Eleven Madison Park workers are divided into teams of three inside the restaurant's kitchens. Rethink then delivers the meals to hospitals and community centers across the city.

"This is obviously an extraordinarily difficult moment for New York, and this program has given our team the chance to not only help people, but to do what they love: cook," Humm said.

Initial data suggests that America's COVID-19 outbreak is disproportionately affecting poor neighborhoods, where population density is higher and living conditions less sanitary.

Meanwhile, some food banks and soup kitchens have been forced to close with the city under lockdown, leaving some of the most vulnerable unable to get what they need. The New York Post reported that almost a third of all food banks in the city's five boroughs have already closed.

With unemployment soaring and no clear end to the crisis in sight, many more people will face difficult financial decisions in the coming months.

Rethink has launched a separate scheme to help as many as 30 restaurants reopen as food distribution centers, backing them with $40,000 in funds. Restaurants will initially be asked to use their remaining food stock, after which Rethink says it can arrange replacement supplies.

The Guardian reported that The demand for food aid has multiplied some eight times in some parts of the country. The National Guard has been deployed to help food banks cope with spiking demands in cities including Cleveland, Phoenix, and St. Louis, and the situation looks likely to get worse.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.
New York, coronavirus, food, restaurant, closed, poor
People move through the streets of the Borough Park section of Brooklyn which has seen an upsurge of coronavirus patients on April 3, 2020 in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images/Getty

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