After years in various kitchens, working his way up from dishwasher to cook, and ultimately chef de partie at Eleven Madison Park, Matt Jozwiak left the fine-dining world behind in 2017 to start Rethink Food NYC, a nonprofit organization that partners with restaurants and grocery stores to reduce excess food and make nutritious, low-cost meals available to the communities that need it most. The organization now counts one café, three roving food trucks, and a number of food-world entities—including Ghetto Gastro and Jozwiak’s former boss, chef Daniel Humm—as collaborators in its mission to fight food insecurity and foster a more sustainable, equitable food system.
How did you get into the food world?
I had trouble paying for college, so I started washing dishes in Kansas. I later moved to Chicago, and then to Europe, then back to Chicago, working at some great restaurants, and ended up in New York, where my last restaurant job was at Eleven Madison Park. Along the way, I’ve been really grateful for the opportunity and privilege of finding and getting that first dishwashing job and working my way up: I’ve always believed in that aspect of the restaurant industry. But I was also kind of frustrated with the way that restaurant workers were perceived, and the way that the industry was run, so I thought, If I ever got to a really high level, I could make a difference. But then I realized there needed to be a vehicle for change.
What led you to move into the nonprofit sector and start Rethink Food?
The biggest, most controversial issue at the time was food waste, which has gotten exponentially worse throughout my career. If there’s a myth that’s still going around, it’s that it’s illegal for restaurants to donate leftover food. So I thought, Let’s fix the most practical, obvious issue that we can tackle. We started picking up excess food and redistributing it to our neighborhoods.
At the end of a restaurant’s night, there might be roasted chicken left over—but what are you going to do with the six quarts of lemon juice and four gallons of celery-root trim or avocado mousse? And it’s not just high-end restaurants that have this problem, but all restaurants. It’s too much of a hodgepodge of random or specific ingredients for people to deal with. But what we found was that if you bring those random ingredients into one central location, you can create something pretty tasty. And you can make a lot of food.
In March, you opened Rethink Café, right as the Covid-19 closures were beginning in New York. How has it been to adapt to the pressures of the pandemic?
We already had the lease, so we were like, Let’s just open it. When Covid hit the city, we looked at the situation and asked ourselves, “What are going to be the issues?” Decentralized production is going to be a big thing, because you don’t want everybody cooking in one big space. And then distribution is a really hard thing, so we thought, Public distribution points are going to be our best friend.
I’ve never worked so hard in my life. There were days where I’d get off a call and be on the verge of tears, hearing all the awful shit happening, or people coming to ask for help on things that are out of my control. A lot of it came down to health and safety, negotiating with our staff, trying to get them to come in. I was running around looking for PPE supplies and ended up buying a bunch of painter’s suits—nobody had thought to buy painter’s suits. They were in stock, and had a mask built into them, so I bought every one I could find. Now, some months on, with the curve flattened here, I feel like we’re headed in the right direction. But I’m really worried [now that the] weekly $600 unemployment checks have run out.
The need for Rethink is even more urgent now, as the pandemic has exacerbated food insecurity issues among communities of need.
Food insecurity takes a lot of different forms, especially when we talk about systemic issues in neighborhoods and “food deserts” with a lack of access to fresh produce and groceries. Generally, people don’t like going to community centers to get their lunch. So they’ll go to a bodega or a fast food place like McDonald’s with a dollar menu of foods that are loaded with sodium. They’re basically designed to get you to buy a Coca-Cola, because it’s much easier and shelf-stable to sell a Coke than it is a hamburger. That contributes to obesity and all sorts of health issues.
For Rethink, our approach is: Let’s not try to change people. Let’s change what they buy. We have a low-cost lunch at the café for a suggested donation of $5, and we have three food trucks of meals that go around. It’s priced so that people are encouraged to try it out. So far, the reception has been great. It’s typically very hard to get feedback on social services, and people don’t like to complain about things that are free. But we encourage it, because it’ll shape the way we make food, and that’s the point. We want Rethink to be a place where people feel they can go in and give us a hard time if it’s not what they want. There’s actually this one person who calls me every Wednesday to ask what’s on the menu that week, and then calls me again to tell me how it was. Sometimes she loves it. Other times, she’ll be honest and say, “I don’t know about this…” [Laughs] Which is great. We love to get direct feedback from the community. It’s exactly what we need.
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Whetstone Magazine Co-Founder and “Origin Forager” Stephen Satterfield on Food, Culture, and Identity
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With Memorial Day weekend behind us, summer has officially begun, and for many home-growers, this signifies the busiest Kitazawa Seed Company, founded in 1917 by a Japanese American family, sells some of the best, and offers more than 500 seed varieties of dento yasai, traditional heirloom varieties of a diverse array of Asian vegetables used in Japanese, Korean, and Chinese cuisines, Browse the extensive catalog to learn about all the delicious varieties, and pick up some recipes for dishes such as sunomono, a simple and refreshing cucumber salad, and kinpira gobo, a savory side of burdock root sautéed in sweet soy sauce.
Thirty to forty percent of perfectly good, fresh produce grown in the U.S. goes to waste each year simply due to bruisinTerroir in a Jar, a company with a serious mission to reduce food waste and put profits back into the hands of growers.
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The ongoing Covid-19 closures have brought the unimaginable to so many local and small businesses across the country andFamily Meal, a site and Instagram account of recipe cards featuring dishes from their favorite local restaurants. All are available for download, with suggested bagna cauda from Popina, challah from The Lighthouse, and lou rou fan from Win Son.
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Daytime drinking is on the up—hey, it’s 5 p.m. somewhere (not that we can keep track of time these days, though the #HandMarkingTime Stories on our @slowdown.tv Instagram at least help us remember which day of the month it is). But if you prefer not to risk getting a hangover, or weakeningDram Apothecary makes a version of the increasingly popular drink in a range of flavors, such as cardamom and black tea, using CBD extrWild Mountain Sage) and switchels, as well as a set of CBD tinctures that you can either drop directly on your tongue, or add to any drink
The ongoing Covid-19 crisis has put a sudden and massive halt on the restaurant industry: Bars, small businesses, mega-c“morbidly high business death rate.” (There’s an episode of our At a Distance podcast on this very subject with Esquire food and drinks editor Jeff Gordinier coming out soon.) As wholesale restaurant suppliers now find their client bases on
As people everywhere settle into new home-cooking routines, finding resourceful ways to make their pantry goods stretch victory garden. Luckily for apartment dwellers without a backyard or access to much green space (more than half the world, basically), all you need is a corner of a countertop to grow some fresh herbs indoors. Better still, and for the botanEdn. The company makes wifi-controlled kits that come with a built-in LED grow light; simple seed pods for no-fuss, soillesSmall Garden order placed—a welcome reminder, in these uncertain times, that your efforts to stay indoors can make a difference for
Self-quarantine and social distancing in the age of the coronavirus are not to be taken lightly, and if, like us, you’refor your own safety and for the safety of others—you may be asking yourself what to stock your pantries with. Add to cart: DADA Daily, a line of tasty and healthy snacks that are neither heavy-handedly survivalist nor overprocessed and, not to mention, so don’t be that bulk-buying, toilet paper-stockpiling jerk.
As the daughter of Slow Food pioneer and Chez Panisse founder Alice Waters, Fanny Singer has had her share of Proustian Always Home: A Daughter’s Recipes and Stories (Alfred A. Knopf), offers a warm and sensorial portrait of her mother, and of an upbringing that often revolved around
Dimes, the all-day café, bar, and market founded by Sabrina De Sousa and Alissa Wagner in downtown Manhattan, has always doneDimes Times: Emotional Eating (Karma Books)—which she says is the first in a series of more publications to come.
Rich Shih, founder of the blog Our Cook Quest and co-author of the forthcoming book Koji Alchemy: Rediscovering the Magic of Mold-Based Fermentation, is a self-taught cook and fermentation expert who makes everything from takuan pickles to fish sauce from scratch, twekoji, the source of umami in fermented ingredients like miso, soy sauce, mirin, and more.
South Korean cinema has been on everyone’s lips this week, in the afterglow of director Bong Joon-ho’s triumphant OscarsParasite, the grand finale to a months-long award spree that began with a Palme d’Or win at the Cannes Film Festival last year. making history in more ways than one. By his second acceptance speech, Bong, whose reactions were being duly memed, was ready to hit the bar. His exact words: “I’m ready to drink now, until the morning.” A total mood.
Zach Mangan, founder of the specialty Japanese tea importer, gallery, and café Kettl, tells us what to look, smell, and taste for in a top-quality matcha.
Phil Winser, co-owner of Silkstone, the hospitality company behind celebrated restaurants such as The Fat Radish, on NewThe Orchard Townhouse, a cozy restaurant in Chelsea that’s soon to open a garden and six fully furnished long-stay rental apartments upstairs
Turmeric, a flowering plant that’s part of the ginger family (and similarly harvested for its roots), is having its momeNYT Cooking’s spiced chickpea stew—so popular it’s simply referred to as #TheStew—by cookbook author and columnist Alison Roman, whose flavorful and simple recipes often go viral and are known to spike the sales of certain ingredients.
Eighteen years ago, Italian-born Fabio Chizzola traded fashion photography for farming, when he purchased an heirloom apWestwind Orchard year-round. While summer and fall are easily his busiest seasons, with spring spent preparing for both, Chizzola tells
Holiday heart is a real thing, and as you ease back into work this coming week, you may consider jump-starting the decadClean program, founded by Dr. Alejandro Junger, an adrenal fatigue expert and the author of new book Clean 7, whose work has garnered A-list devotees in everyone from Demi Moore to Naomi Campbell. Gwyneth Paltrow, another die-hard3-day mini cleanse (which recently launched and comes with far fewer demands that make it feasible to incorporate into a long weekend). Th
Artist, cookbook author, and chef Julia Sherman has had her fair share of memorable meals—her popular blog, Salad For President, posts photographs and recipes of the many dishes she’s shared in the company of friends and fellow artists: jerk shrimdukkah with Joan Jonas, Gwenn Thomas, and Joana Avillez. But it was a happy accident that led to the idea of her latest projecJus Jus, a sparkling alcoholic beverage made from verjus, a tart juice pressed from unripe grapes that’s typically used as a vinegary note in salads and marinades. Sherman had