Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street | Milk Street Faces

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Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street | Milk Street Faces

Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street | Milk Street Faces

The stories of the people who feed us
  • Cindy Kruse, Cindy Lou’s Cookies​, Miami, Florida

    “For us, it’s just cookies. But for them, it means so much,” says Cindy Kruse... read more
    “For us, it’s just cookies. But for them, it means so much,” says Cindy Kruse, owner of Cindy Lou’s Cookies, a Miami bakery that—with little other business—has been donating boxes of oversized treats to workers at hospitals across the city. “Our main source of income is pretty much zero. (But) everyone is still working. The full timers went to part time. People are still coming into the shop for their comfort food ... And that’s why we started doing the hospital thing. We didn’t want to close and we wanted to do something for the hospitals. Now people are calling us to donate money for us to bake and take cookies to hospitals,” she said, a movement that spurred a new hashtag — #cookiesforacause. “It actually makes me feel really lucky to be able to do this. In my eyes, they are the real heroes, yet they are thanking us.” — Cindy Kruse, Cindy Lou’s Cookies, Miami, as told to Suzette Laboy (Photo by Suzette Laboy). Looking for ways to help? We support the work of World Central Kitchen
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  • Dan Corcoran, The Inn at Woodloch, Hawley, Pennsylvania

    “It’s just a totally eerie feeling,” says Dan Corcoran, executive chef at The Inn at... read more
    “It’s just a totally eerie feeling,” says Dan Corcoran, executive chef at The Inn at Woodloch, a family-run lakefront resort in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. “Every day, I begin my drive down the road; it’s quiet. I’m shaking my head, like, ‘I can’t believe what’s going on here.’ And then I get to the resort, and the parking lots are empty.” Staff has been furloughed during one of the busiest seasons for the resort, which opened in 1958. Corcoran and several other staff remain working part-time to fill the resort’s shop, which provides food to some locals and permanent residents. But that couldn’t make use of all the food left behind when Woodloch closed last month. Some went to food pantries, some to employees when they came to collect their last checks. “I think there was about 400 bags that went out to staff,” says Corcoran. “There’s a lot of uncertainty … I’m sure once we get the word that they’re going to reopen, then everybody will come together, and it’ll be a great sight. We just have to hang in there, like everybody else in the world.” — Dan Corcoran, The Inn at Woodloch, Hawley, Pennsylvania, as told to Sile Ni Fhloinn (Photo by Woodloch Resort)Looking for ways to help? We support the work of World Central Kitchen. ... less
  • J. Kenji López-Alt​​, Wursthall, ​San Mateo, CA

    “We’re actually stopping [takeout and delivery] service, because at this point, it just feels irresponsible... read more
    “We’re actually stopping [takeout and delivery] service, because at this point, it just feels irresponsible. We have two people on the line. There’s plenty of space for them. But when things start to get really busy, they end up walking past each other frequently,” says J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, food writer and chef at San Mateo, California-based Wursthall. “I don’t understand why restaurants are considered essential. What ends up happening is you’re placing the responsibility on the owner to make sure their employees are safe, but also to say, ‘Hey. Now’s the time to stop.’ It’s a difficult decision because you don’t want to put your employees at risk, and that’s the main thing I’m thinking about. But if you shut down the restaurant, then your employees don’t have an income stream. So we’re going to continue our donation-based free meal service that we’re doing with local hospitals. They’re boxed, delivered meals, so there’s no lunch rush or dinner rush. From a safety standpoint, it’s sort of a no-brainer. We’ve partnered with @offtheirplate, a sub organization of World Central Kitchen. I would also encourage people to call up their favorite restaurant and ask how to help, because the local places are the ones that are going to get hit hard by all this.” J. Kenji López-Alt, Wurstahll, San Mateo, CA, as told to @alison_spiegel (Photo by J. Kenji López-Alt) Looking for ways to help? We support the work of World Central Kitchen.
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  • Jennifer Caraway, Joy Bus, Phoenix, Arizona

    “My heart is breaking,” says Jennifer Caraway, founder and executive director of Phoenix-area charity Joy... read more
    “My heart is breaking,” says Jennifer Caraway, founder and executive director of Phoenix-area charity Joy Bus, which delivers chef-inspired meals to homebound cancer patients. “It’s hugely impacted us.” The social interaction always was as important as the food during deliveries, but that’s no longer safe. “They’re not allowed to be there when the patient opens the door. They have zero contact with the patient.” Caraway also runs the Joy Bus Diner, an eatery whose profits go solely toward the effort. The diner has switched to takeout but it, too, has been hobbled by social distancing. “We are the only place you can go and, every single time, [people] are either laughing or crying about their diagnoses. ... To take that away from our neighborhood and stick a table in front of the door so they’re no longer able to come inside, and we can’t touch them, we can’t help them... It completely changes our mission. We’re part of a community; we created this community and now they can’t feel like they’re a part of it.” Still, that community hasn’t forgotten the diner’s mission. “On the positive side, people that would come every day and have bacon and eggs are driving by and dropping off a check of what they would’ve spent if they could’ve come in the diner. People are really trying to support us, but I think, as the days go by, they’re more afraid to leave their homes.” — Jennifer Caraway, Joy Bus, Phoenix, as told to Sile Ni Fhloinn (Photo by Areli Trapero)Looking for ways to help? We support the work of World Central Kitchen.
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  • Sam Yoo, Golden Diner, New York City

    “We’re trying to get the public educated on how much all third party platforms are... read more
    “We’re trying to get the public educated on how much all third party platforms are taking from restaurants. It was always a big chunk, but it it wasn’t as dire when delivery was only 5 to 10 percent of our business. Now it’s pretty much 100 percent of all restaurants’ business and they’re taking a whole lot more from us and most certainly not looking to help us out,” says Sam Yoo, chef at Golden Diner, a 1-year-old restaurant in New York City’s Chinatown. “And we have no governmental protection, like the maximum cap they enforced in San Francisco,” he says, referring to the city’s emergency order to cap delivery company’s restaurant fees to 15 percent. “If we could, we would cut them out completely. But the culture of ordering delivery is hard to change overnight and we can’t afford to lose a single customer on those platforms. So until the people know and delete the apps, we’re going to have to pay for it.” — Sam Yoo, Golden Diner, New York City, as told to Alison Spiegel (Photo via Sam Yoo) Looking for ways to help? We support the work of World Central Kitchen. ... less
  • Angelo Gonzales III, Your Pizza Shop, Akron, Ohio

    “We thought, how are the kids going to eat without the free lunch programs? This... read more
    “We thought, how are the kids going to eat without the free lunch programs? This is the inner city and food and money is pretty tight. For some of them, the only means for food is school, but it’s closed,” says Angelo Gonzales III, owner of Your Pizza Shop in Akron, Ohio. “We fall on the right side of the coin since we’re one of the few essential businesses on this side of town.” So with business up 40 percent, he is funneling some of that into feeding the more than 5,000 students who had been relying on subsidized school lunches. But all of it comes with challenges, including keeping himself, his employees and customers safe. “We increased online security so people can make payments online, switched to curbside pickup for carry out at the store. We have no-contact delivery also, and using social media to keep customers away from the store allows us to increase our staff. I’m making sure we’re healthy, taking temperatures before coming into work, prioritizing safety.” — Angelo Gonzales III, Your Pizza Shop, Akron, Ohio, as told to Albert Stumm (Photo by Leeann Greitzer) Looking for ways to help? We support the work of World Central Kitchen. ... less
  • Eric Cooper, San Antonio Food Bank, Texas

    “It’s been inspiring to see the community coming together while physically distant. … Just the... read more
    “It’s been inspiring to see the community coming together while physically distant. … Just the fact that volunteers are showing up is humbling to me,” says Eric Cooper, president and CEO of the San Antonio Food Bank, which serves 16 counties in southwest Texas. “Normally, we feed 60,000 people a week. Now in the Covid-19 crisis those pantries and popups are feeding 120,000 a week.” Keeping that influx fed has strained their resources, particularly as the resources Cooper typically relies on have faced their own challenges. “Supply has tightened. We really try to get food from wherever it is and keep it from going to waste to get it to those in need. But the restaurant, hotel, catering sector is closed, so we’re not picking up at those locations. And then grocery retailers have been selling out. As they sell out, there’s less product for our trucks to pick up every day.” Despite that, so far they’ve managed to feed everyone in need. And in that, he feels tremendous gratitude. “We get the temperatures checked and everyone is masked and gloved, but putting yourself at risk, making that decision to step out into the storm and help someone else. I’m just very grateful.” — Eric Cooper, San Antonio Food Bank, Texas, as told to Albert Stumm (Photo by San Antonio Food Bank)Looking for ways to help? We support the work of World Central Kitchen. ... less
  • Sarah Hancock, Burrito Me, Plymouth, New Hampshire

    “The biggest positive that’s come from this is what I’ve seen from our group, our... read more
    “The biggest positive that’s come from this is what I’ve seen from our group, our staff banding together even further. It’s extended to their families. Like, ‘Does your mom need for us to go to the grocery store for her?’ Or, ‘Does your family need me to cook meals?’ So that has been a big thing that’s really nice to see,” says Sarah Hancock, one of the owners of two Burrito Me shops in Plymouth and Laconia, New Hampshire. They had planned to celebrate their eighth year in business in March, but shutdowns have forced them to instead focus on how to support one another. “It’s hard. I had two full-time assistant managers, so they are filing for unemployment and just trying to make it work. We stay in contact to try and plan for when we reopen, as the rest are mostly part-time college kids. Some of them have had to move home, but most of them are still in town, so they are filing for unemployment and hoping for the best. Most of them had two jobs and I think most of them are laid off from both,” she says. “Everyone understands and they can’t wait to come back, but it’s definitely not a fun situation. We really run like a small family. We all help each other out. We all spend time together outside of work. We all just get along really well, which is beneficial because we are willing to share with each other, it’s definitely a close knit group.” — Sarah Hancock, Burrito Me, Plymouth, New Hampshire, as told to @msdmusic2 (Photo by @mauriza369) Looking for ways to help? We support the work of World Central Kitchen.
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  • Sohui Kim, The Good Fork, Insa, Gage & Tollner, Brooklyn, New York

    “It’s about survival, and we’re the lucky ones,” says Sohui Kim, chef and owner of... read more
    “It’s about survival, and we’re the lucky ones,” says Sohui Kim, chef and owner of three Brooklyn restaurants: The Good Fork, Insa and Gage & Tollner, which had to close March 14, a day before it officially was to open. “It’s hard to stay optimistic. But now it’s time to focus on the next steps and to look ahead.” For Kim, that means offering takeout at Insa and working out a plan for The Good Fork. “It’s the restaurant that launched my career. It’s where I learned to be a restaurant chef. If it can’t be up and running, then I definitely do want to turn it into some sort of food center. There’s still a great amount of meats and produce and delicious things to be had out there. It’s just the logistics of getting it to people’s homes. So if I can facilitate that—getting goods from my purveyors and keeping them in business and distributing that—then I’d like to participate in that as well. I know for a fact it’s not going to be easy, having gone through [Hurricane] Sandy in Red Hook. But it’s the old adage that what doesn’t break you makes you stronger. In times of these disasters, people always come out and support one another and there’s that real human side that shines.” — Sohui Kim, The Good Fork, Brooklyn, New York, as told to Alison Spiegel. (Photo by Lizzie Munro) Looking for ways to help? We support the work of World Central Kitchen.
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  • Chad Ellis, Kings Dining and Entertainment, Franklin, Tennessee

    “I’ve lived and worked through tornadoes in Oklahoma, hurricanes in Miami when there’s been a... read more
    “I’ve lived and worked through tornadoes in Oklahoma, hurricanes in Miami when there’s been a shutdown, natural disasters … and this is heartbreaking,” says Chad Ellis, the Franklin, Tennessee-based culinary manager of Kings Dining and Entertainment, a chain of bowling alley restaurants where everything is cooked from scratch. When the company shut down, it furloughed thousands of employees “to do the right thing for the public … the right thing for our employees, which doesn’t feel right, but the right thing to do for the community.” He realizes it has caused many to struggle. “Everyone knows this is not an extremely lucrative industry, as far as putting money away into the bank, and the majority of them have kids or second jobs, or a lot of them are in college.” The Kings’ kitchen may not have customers, but they still are cooking. “We are continuing, as a company, doing two meals a day at 12 o’clock and 5 o’clock for any employee that needs a hot meal or a meal for their entire family,” Ellis says. “They call in, they text me the location, how many meals they need. So we’re trying to at least provide people food if they don’t have money for anything else.”— Chad Ellis, Kings Dining and Entertainment, Franklin, Tennessee, as told to Sile Ni Fhloiin (Photo by Kings Dining and Entertainment) Looking for ways to help? We support the work of World Central Kitchen.
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  • Alison Ladman, The Crust & Crumb​, Concord, New Hampshire

    “I want customers, but I want them to live. Please: Be around in six months... read more
    “I want customers, but I want them to live. Please: Be around in six months. I promise, a muffin is not worth it. We’ll deliver it to you,” said Alison Ladman, owner of Crust & Crumb bakery in Concord, New Hampshire. “I see 90-year-old customers come in here and (they) think that it’s nothing... I can’t shake my customers and tell them to go away, but sometimes I’d like to.” The regular menu at Crust & Crumb includes six types of scones, seven Whoopie Pies, eight European cookies and nine layer cakes. “We’re adjusting what we’re making so it’s more comfort-food oriented. Today, I put macaroni and cheese in the case. Soup _ chicken noodle, tomato, that kind of stuff that people can grab and take home with them,” she said. To help people ride out the quarantine, she now offers delivery service, curbside pickup and free lunches to local school children in need. “I’m trying to do the right thing for my employees, for my business, for my family, for my customers, for my community. What is the right thing to be doing at any given moment?” Ladman opened the bakery in 2012 across the street from the Statehouse. She estimates revenues are down 40 percent between her storefront customers and suspended wholesale accounts. But as grateful as she is for her remaining customers, she wishes some would stay home. — Alison Ladman, The Crust & Crumb, Concord, New Hampshire, as told to Holly Ramer (Photo by JM Hirsch) Milk Street Faces shares the stories of the people who feed us. Looking for ways to help? We support the work of World Central Kitchen and #chefsforamerica to put restaurants and cooks back to work to feed those in need.
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  • Pierre Thiam, Teranga, New York City

    “I realized the decision had to be made right away,” chef Pierre Thiam of East... read more
    “I realized the decision had to be made right away,” chef Pierre Thiam of East Harlem’s Teranga says of shifting his restaurant to delivery and pick-up only. “I have a small staff that’s been with me for years, even prior to the restaurant, and some of them depend on their weekly paycheck. It took us a week to regroup and reorganize ourselves. We adjusted the menu first of all to be able to deliver with a reduced staff because of course we couldn’t have the whole staff on board, and also to come up with a family meal so that the needs of the community would be addressed. Expanding our service for delivery, we have volunteers in the staff who are delivering directly to the community, and we are also working with Seamless, Caviar and all the others. I’m very nervous about the restaurant. It’s an industry where every penny counts unless you are one of those chain restaurants, which is not the case for us. We were also on our way to opening two outposts right before these things happened. But now we need to rethink it.” — Pierre Thiam, chef-owner of Teranga, New York City, as told to Alison Spiegel (Photo by Pierre Thiam). Looking for ways to help? We support the work of World Central Kitchen.
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  • Tealana Hedgespeth, Phebes, New York City

    “I have nothing else that I’m good at besides hospitality to make money off of... read more
    “I have nothing else that I’m good at besides hospitality to make money off of, and I feel like most people in the industry are kind of in the same boat: Either they’re striving actors or this is what their job is,” says Tealana Hedgespeth, who until a couple weeks ago worked as a waitress at Phebes, a bar and restaurant in New York City’s East Village. Neither she nor her twin sister, who also lost her income, have benefits. “(I) just pray I don’t get hurt.” The 28-year-old applied for unemployment, itself a frustration. “I tried. I tried for four days, I don’t even know how many times, but … I finally made it through.” Though Hedgespeth has yet to hear whether she is approved, she knows she still is luckier than many. “They’re freaking out. I know a lot of people who technically don’t have their green cards yet, and they work in the service industry. And the government’s not going to allow them to apply for unemployment because … they’re ‘not supposed to be here.’” — Tealana Hedgespeth, Phebes, New York City, as told to Sile Ni Fhloinn (Photo by Tealana Hedgespeth). Looking for ways to help? We support the work of World Central Kitchen.
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  • Sarah Ramsay, Good Little Eater, Stillwater, Oklahoma

    “People want sweets. We’re selling a ton of cookies. We’re selling out of our cookies... read more
    “People want sweets. We’re selling a ton of cookies. We’re selling out of our cookies every day,” says Sarah Ramsay, owner of Good Little Eater, a 30-seat restaurant in Stillwater, Oklahoma. “People have been super supportive. They’ve been really great. At the same time, today I was kind of questioning, ‘Why am I doing this?’ I’m not an essential business. I mean, I don’t think so. But I guess for people that don’t cook, maybe I am essential." For Ramsay, adapting to the pandemic meant reversing the dine-in dynamic. "We (used to) serve lunch four days a week and brunch every other Sunday. We closed for dining last Tuesday, but we’ve quadrupled sales of our freezer items. We’ve always offered casseroles and things out of the freezer, but people were really wanting prepared meals they could take home, so we’ve been really doing a lot of that. Every single day for the past eight days, we’ve been selling out of casseroles. We’re selling a ton of soups and chili, too. Just tons of it. I can’t keep it in stock. And then the quiches; I’ve probably made 40 quiches in the past few days." — Sarah Ramsay, Good Little Eater, Stillwater, Oklahoma, as told to Hillary Speed (Photo by Chris Ramsay) Looking for ways to help? We support the work of World Central Kitchen.
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  • Subrina and Gregory Collier, Leah & Louise, Charlotte, North Carolina

    “We’re solution-based,” says Subrina Collier. “I can’t be ‘woe is me.’ I’m like a black... read more
    “We’re solution-based,” says Subrina Collier. “I can’t be ‘woe is me.’ I’m like a black MacGyver. I’ll figure some(thing) out.” Collier and her husband, Gregory, were just days out from opening their new blues-joint-inspired restaurant, Leah & Louise, in Charlotte, North Carolina. Now they’ve been forced to pivot, swapping sit-down for takeout. “It hurts. It’s bad. But we have a way to still make money. What about people who don’t have that?” This was to be part of a fresh start. In 2014, the couple’s first restaurant — The Yolk in Rock Hill, South Carolina — burned down and Gregory’s sister died two days later. They eventually relocated The Yolk to Charlotte. “It’s really a teaser now,” he says of being limited to takout. “I want people to taste how I cook Southern food. That’s half the battle. That experience ain’t even half the experience. When you can come in and get the same food or better food?”— Subrina and Gregory Collier, Leah & Louise, Charlotte, North Carolina, as told to Kathleen Purvis (Photo by Kathleen Purvis). Looking for ways to help? We support the work of World Central Kitchen.
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  • Christopher D’Emilio, D’Emilio’s Old World Ice Treats, Philadelphia

    “Remember when you were young and on a boring summer night everyone went to get... read more
    “Remember when you were young and on a boring summer night everyone went to get ice cream to make it feel like you did something? I think that’s happening right now. It’s also one of the last places parents can take their kids since they can’t go to the movies or playground anymore. Ice cream is escapism for people. I’m in this weird ecosystem. I’m actually doing OK. Not great, but OK. Last night was the first time I saw that I wasn’t able to keep up with the line and I stopped service for an hour to tweak the system. Busted out the tape measure and chalk, spaced people 6 feet apart. I like being here with the lights on for people to see. Even if they don’t come in, subconsciously it’s a little reassuring to see that at least ice cream still exists. I’ve been liking the service. Less pressure, lots of personal attention with the customer, line out the door, kind of ideal in a weird way. Minus the pandemic.” — Christopher D’Emilio, D’Emilio’s Old World Ice Treats, Philadelphia, as told to Ari Miller. Looking for ways to help? We support the work of World Central Kitchen.
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JUNE 2021
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