Seven celebrated chefs recently came together at Chim by Siam Wisdom to prepare 700 epicurean lunch boxes for those fighting for fitness on the Covid-19 frontline.
It was the latest instalment of the ongoing “Food For Fighters: Zero Hunger” project initiated by entrepreneur-restaurateur-philanthropist Panchana – P’Tete – Vanasathein that’s gone viral.
The chefs volunteered their personal time and culinary artistry to specifically support Khlong Toey community, 20 field hospitals in Bangkok and other provinces, and some prisons where the Covid-19 threat to folks is particularly clear and present.
The multi-award-winning, Michelin-star-peppered line-up included Chef Noom Thaninthorn Chantrawan from Chim by Siam Wisdom, Chef Andy Yang from Table 38, Chef Ton Thitid Tassanakajohn from Baan Restaurant, Chef Nutthapol ‘Nick’ Pavapaiboon from Wang Hinghoi, Chef David Thompson from Aksorn, Chef Som Jutamas Theantae from Karmakamet Conveyance, and Khun Srirat Sripinyo from Sri Trat.
The whole idea initially came to P’Tete when the pandemic first broke early last year. “We wanted to alleviate the suffering from the shutdown among those most exposed, help sustain our frontline medical workers and at the same time find a way to keep these great chefs and restaurants operating in some way,” she says.
Initial crowd-funding enabled the movement to hire restaurants to prepare rice boxes and deliver to healthcare workers. In the next phase, online crowdfunding platform Sinwattana channelled the support of 315 caring people who donated 1.5 million baht and around 100 restaurants in 20 provinces became involved.
Initially distributing 200 boxes of rice-based meals a day, the volume rose to 400 boxes delivered to around 10 communities.
Fresh fruits and vegetables and meats are sourced from local farmers in Huai Kha Khaeng, Uthai Thani and Khao Yai, Nakhon Ratchasima. They are rushed to the community kitchen in Bangkok staffed by volunteer restaurants and chefs.
P’Tete set up a new FFF centre at Chulalongkorn University Alumni Association under the King’s Patronage as the third wave of the coronavirus took hold early this year. The result: “Khao Saen Glong - 100,000 boxes from the hearts of Chulalongkorn University Alumni Association under the King’s Patronage”.
“We thought that healthcare workers and others on the frontline shouldn’t have to eat chicken basil every day. Why couldn’t they eat a treat?” ventures P’Tete. “So we asked around Covid-19-affected communities which dishes they miss most and adjusted our output accordingly.”
Chef Noom cooked Steamed Rice with Taro and Chicken Stew with Truffle Oil; Chef Andy cooked Pad Thai; Chef Ton cooked Grilled Pork Neck with Rice; Chef Nick cooked Chicken Burger with Salads; Chef David cooked Fried Chicken with Coconut Rice; Chef Som cooked Fried Mackerel with Shrimp Paste Sauce and Chicken Biryani, and; Sri Trat cooked Pork Stew with Cha Muang Leaves.
The objective of not only filling bellies but also hearts was evidently achieved, with several recipients expressing their thanks through tears of gratitude.
It all also showed how much the Thai and foreign chefs who practice their art and craft in Bangkok care about the community and are prepared to prove it by rolling up their sleeves.
Operating entirely on a volunteer basis, the centre is producing from 9 am to 5 pm seven days a week until the end of June.
And they are always looking for new recruits as follows: “If you have food, cook for us; If you have time, come to help us make goody bags; If you have time and strength, come help us load and unload tons of donations; If you have none of the above, you can just donate.”
More information: Facebook: Food For Fighters