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Chefs Brigade Responds To Tornado Relief Efforts

When an EF-3 tornado with winds up to 160 mph touched down in New Orleans East and St. Bernard Parish on Tuesday, March 22, it was the strongest ever to hit the New Orleans metro area.

With hundreds of first responders and Entergy workers on site, it became apparent that all of these people, including survivors, would need to be fed. Chefs Brigade was able to fill the gap.

 

Photo Credit: WWNO TV

The tornado had a track of more than 11 miles long with a width of 320 yards, and left Arabi, which is just east of New Orleans with a population of about 4500 people heavily damaged.  Howie Kaplan, owner of the Howlin Wolf, had already sprung into action by Wednesday morning. Kaplan, whose staff had fed thousands in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida and a longtime Chefs Brigade partner, went to the affected areas and began making calls to government officials. Kaplan eventually heard from St. Bernard Parish, who requested assistance, and Kaplan brought the request to Gilbert.

 

“With over 90 restaurant partners, Chefs Brigade has the bandwidth to support any sized disaster as long as the event hasn’t affected the majority of our brigade member restaurants,” Chefs Brigade Executive Director Troy Gilbert said.

 

The tornado had a track of more than 11 miles long with a width of 320 yards, and left Arabi, which is just east of New Orleans with a population of about 4500 people heavily damaged.  Howie Kaplan, owner of the Howlin Wolf had already sprung into action by Wednesday morning. Kaplan, whose staff had fed thousands in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida and a longtime Chefs Brigade partner, went to the affected areas and began making calls to government officials. Kaplan eventually heard from St. Bernard Parish, who requested assistance, and Kaplan brought the request to Gilbert.

Gilbert, who managed the Chefs Brigade system responsible for providing 3.7 million meals through the New Orleans COVID-19 meal assistance program, contacted brigade partner Racheal Apken of Copeland’s, which has a staffed mobile kitchen and the ability to efficiently deliver hot meals. Kaplan also approached local bread baker, Leidenheimer, who contributed French bread for the meals. 

Troy Gilbert and Joe Riccobono delivering Leidenheimer’s bread

Gilbert coordinated with the St. Bernard team and less than 24 hours after the initial request, Chefs Brigade partner Copeland’s was setting up at the St. Bernard Civic Center with Gilbert and Chefs Brigade Board Member Joe Riccobono delivering the Leidenheimer’s bread. Soon 400 police, firefighters, the Louisiana National Guard, electrical line workers, volunteers and survivors were lining up to receive a hot cooked delicious meal. Along with Leidenheimer’s donation, Copeland’s and Chefs Brigade paid for the feeding.

“It’s really the least you can do when our neighbors are hit with something like this, including one of our Chefs Brigade team members who lives in Arabi,” Gilbert said. “People need to be fed after disasters, and because of our brigade system, which is made up of some of the hardest working and compassionate people there are, we can provide that solution.”