When Chefs Brigade began during the dark pandemic days of March 2020, our initial efforts were working together to feed first responders: men and women working countless hours to keep New Orleans safe in the midst of an unprecedented crisis. Our first sponsoring partner was the New Orleans Police & Justice Foundation (NOP&JF), and they proved to be an invaluable resource for making this then giant undertaking regularly occur. And then there were the numerous restaurant partners that cooked, delivered and often served the food.
Well, we decided to get the band back together for the 2023 holiday season with “Feeding the Front Lines”, and we brought on a new partner: New Orleans & Company. With our partners and our dedicated team of restaurants and caterers, we’ve been busy trying to bring a little extra joy (and food) to the men and women of the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD).
“I’m grateful to our sponsoring partners, New Orleans & Company and the New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation, for collaborating with Chefs Brigade and our restaurants to make “Feeding the Front Lines” a reality,” says Chef Brigade’s Executive Director Troy Gilbert. “Sometimes we the public can forget how the front line sacrifices for all of us, and this is an example of what we can achieve when we come together.”
From the very beginning, Chefs Brigade has been about harnessing the power of our incredible restaurants and caterers to address issues such as food insecurity and disaster recovery. When New Orleans became one of the first hotspots for the Covid-19 crisis, Chefs Brigade was launched and was focused on deploying brigades to ensure first responders had restaurant-quality meals available to them. Later on, when the City had the resources for addressing food insecurity for vulnerable people facing food insecurity, Chefs Brigade grew into a larger force of restaurants, chefs, caterers and other organizations aimed at solving the problem.
By the time the program sunsetted, Chefs Brigade had connected with more than 90 New Orleans restaurants, chefs and caterers to produce 3.7 million meals for more than 24,000 people.
“Feeding the Front Lines” is a smaller endeavor, but it will yield positive results: showing New Orleans police officers that they are appreciated, connecting restaurants with the NOPD, and building community and officer morale. With generous assistance and planning from NOP&JF and New Orleans & Co., Chefs Brigade reached out to restaurants in the various police districts to set the meal dates, which began around Thanksgiving with a second feeding in the third week of December.
The first feeding took place on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving at NOPD’s Fifth District headquarters. Cafe Dauphine served the food to the grateful front ranks and new Police Superintendent Anne Kirkpatrick joined the festivities. And by the following day, all eight NOPD districts were able to take a well-deserved break and enjoy a hot delicious meal with their fellow officers.
The Thanksgiving feeding generated so much goodwill with the officers and restaurant partners, not to mention full bellies, that it made sense to repeat this multi-district morale booster.
“This really gets to the heart of what Chefs Brigade does–connecting people through food,” says Gilbert. “Sometimes it can be something as simple as this: bringing a hot meal–in this case, hundreds of hot meals–to show your appreciation for the work they do. I was at a number of these events, and it was great to see the officers enjoying themselves and talking with the restaurant owners and staff.”
The second feedings, which took place on December 20th and 21st, came together quickly with Chefs Brigade organizing the partner restaurants and NOP&J making arrangements with the police districts. New Orleans Police Superintendent Anne Kirkpatrick had made it to the 5th District’s Thanksgiving meal, and she then came out for the 8th District’s holiday meal. Both the 5th and 8th district officers were happy to see the new chief out and about with the rank and file, sharing some food and company.
When it was all over, “Feeding the Front Lines” has managed to provide more than 2,000 meals to NOPD officers (so far), and, more than that, brought a little holiday cheer to those who help us all have a safe and joyous holiday season.
Many thanks to our following restaurant partners:
*Felipe’s, *Soule’ Cafe, *Frankie & Johnny’s, *Sala, *Cafe Dauphine, Diva Dawg, Dong Phuong, *Liberty’s Kitchen, *Next to Eat, *Afrodesiac, *Cochon, *Cafe Dauphine, *Central City BBQ, and *Carmo
December 21, 2023
October 31, 2023
October 30, 2023
October 4, 2023