Mark Kurlyandchik Honors Detroit Food Fighters in His Last Piece for the Detroit Free Press

In this episode of the Essential Cooking podcast, food writer Mark Kurlyandchik joins Ann Delisi and Chef James Rigato to talk about the Detroit Free Press 2020 Food Fighters honorees.

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Detroit Free Press
Detroit Free Press

Mark Kurylandchik has spent the last five years as a food writer and critic for the Detroit Free Press.

For each of those years, the Free Press awarded a Restaurant of the Year. That was until COVID-19 turned the restaurant industry in Metro Detroit upside down.
In his last piece for the Free Press, Kurlyandchik went out on a high note, honoring the Detroit Free Press Food Fighters, instead.
The awards celebrated Detroit chefs and restaurateurs who went above and beyond to help their communities during the pandemic.
Here are a few of the honorees mentioned in the episode.
  • Omar Anani, whose restaurant Saffron De Twah Moroccan Bistro was a semifinalist for a James Beard Foundation award for Best New Restaurant just before the pandemic hit in 2020. Then, he closed his restaurant and turned it into a community kitchen.
  • Phil Jones, who managed to distribute over 100,000 pounds of cooked and diced chicken at the height of the pandemic.
  • Ederique Goudia, who as lead chef for the nonprofit Make Food Not Waste upcycled food that would normally go to landfill and fed students instead.
  • Anthony Lombardo and Desiré Vincent Levy, who started the Detroit Kitchen Terminal to provide culinary training for formerly incarcerated people. When the pandemic hit, they redirected some of those funds for restaurant workers in Detroit the week before Christmas.
In this episode:
  • Mark Kurlyandchik on replacing the Detroit Free Press’ annual Restaurant of the Year awards with the Food Fighters Honorees
  • Reflecting on his five years as a food writer and critic for the Detroit Free Press
  • Some of the most impactful chefs and restaurants who have stepped up for their communities during the pandemic

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  • David Leins
    David Leins is a Podcast Coordinator and Producer at WDET. He also oversees the StoryMakers program. When he isn't making radio and podcasts, David is probably on a hike somewhere marveling at the trees.