Chefs and Restaurants

The LEE Initiative Expands to Support Restaurant Workers in 19 Community Kitchens Across the Country

Editor's Note: Plate is making coverage of the coronavirus available to all readers. Find more articles here.

The LEE Initiative, a nonprofit organization founded by Chef Edward Lee and Lindsey Ofcacek has expanded its Restaurant Workers Relief Program to 19 cities across the country. 

The program, created in partnership with Maker's Mark, works with chefs and restaurant owners to provide resources for them to set up community kitchens and pantries serving out-of-work restaurant workers. Everyone who shows up for food at must show proper ID and paperwork (like a paystub) to prove recent employment at a restaurant. A social distancing system will be in place to welcome guests in and out the door. 


"That first day, we had an overwhelming response," Lee told Plate when the program launched. "We had families feeding their kids. There were grown men crying. Everyone realized that this is real. The actual time until you get your unemployment check in the mail could be six days, it could be three weeks. In the meantime, people are simply running out of money. Some have families, disabled children, and these people are quickly turning desperate.”

Here is a list of locations hosting community kitchens; check the links for service hours and other information.


Chef Linton Hopkins and Gina Hopkins at Eugene​ and Elizabeth's


Chef Ming Tsai at Blue Dragon


Chef Greg Braxtrom at Olmsted 


Chefs Chris Teixeira, Nate Henssler, Martin Arellano and Christo Vlahos at West Town Bakery & Diner


Chef Jose Salazar at Mita’s


Chef Alon Shaya at Safta


Chef Kate Williams at Lady of the House


Chef Ryan Lachaine at Riel

Lexington, Ky.

Chef Samantha Fore of Tuk Tuk Sri Lankan Bites at Great Bagel Bakery

Los Angeles

Chef Nancy Silverton at Osteria Mozza.


Chefs Edward Lee and Kevin Ashworth at 610 Magnolia


Chef Sarah Gavigan at Otaku To-Go

New Albany, Ind.

Chef Joe Phillips at Pints & Union

New Orleans

Chef Donald Link at Cochon

Oakland, Calif.

Chefs Nelson German and Daniel Patterson at alaMar


at Hummingbird


Chef Edouardo Jordan at Salare


Chef Suzanne Crouch at Cass Street Deli

Washington, D.C.

Chef Edward Lee at Succotash