Fund raisers routinely call upon restaurants to support a good cause which do so willingly to help their community, but who helps the kitchen worker when needed? Maria Sparks of Cork and Platter Catering said two years ago several eateries in San Diego got together and held a fund raiser for one of their own who had emergency medical bills and now the effort has grown. The core group of seasoned restaurateurs banded together, as they generously give to charities by providing great food, but it was time to assist their employees with sudden financial health care issues.
Co-founder, Ron Troyano from Alchemy restaurant, told me the fund started when a chef had a non-work related accident causing a severe eye injury and couldn’t afford medical care. He and other kitchen staff decided that as a professional group, they could provide emergency health funds by reaching out to the community. The Front Burner Fund was established, a 501 C-3 charity, and the first annual “Taco Throwdown” was held last year. September 22, 2013, the second annual Taco Throwdown was held at Catalina Offshore Products with fish monger Tommy Gomes serving up fresh fish tacos with heirloom vegetables.
There were two categories to judge tacos, fish and non-fish. Fish tacos included grilled octopus, lobster in a sauce and Asian style shrimp tacos. Non-fish included Pork belly, sweet and spicy pork and pulled pork carnitas. Hot handmade tortillas came off the stove and were passed out to the taco makers except for one. That’s because he makes his own tortillas from cauliflower and rice. A newer, healthy version of a tortilla. Craft beers, specialty desserts and lively music added to the festivities while chefs prepared unique tacos for a good cause.
Besides this event, the volunteers hold other fund raisers open to the public during the year to help as many back of the house restaurant staff as possible. Culinary workers can apply for funding by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or Facebook/Frontburnerfund.
San Diego’s restaurant community sticks together by taking care of their own.