SAN JOSE (KPIX) — These have been tough days for the food service business but one chef in San Jose has been operating a unique kitchen to help struggling restaurants and their laid-off workers.
The restaurant business in San Jose is dealing with the pandemic blues. Rodney Baca, owner of The Shop by Chef Baca, is used to working with truffles and caviar.READ MORE: Evacuations Ordered as Wildfire Burns in Butte County North of Chico
“But now … I need to make something out of my lemons, right?” Baca said.
With his indoor restaurant closed for months, Baca has been operating out of a trailer downtown, creating his signature lobster and Gruyere cheese pizzas. He’s not been the only restaurant working here.
“I figured, we’re all chefs, let’s do a little market and we’ll call it Chefs Market, get these restaurants together and you can order from this crazy, eclectic market,” Baca explained.
At any given time, five restaurants have each sent an employee here to assemble fresh meals to sell to the public. The trailer itself is similar to what FEMA sends to disaster sites when they have to feed hundreds of people.
“It is a little tight when you start putting all the restaurants in there so we’ve had to maneuver and think of things, how to do it so it all works out correctly.”READ MORE: Cruz Reynoso, First Latino California Supreme Court Justice, Dies at 90
The food sales come with a twist. For each meal sold, the chefs also create a meal for a furloughed hospitality worker in the area and they do it at no extra cost to the customer. The chefs know how to stretch even a gourmet meal into two.
“We’re utilizing our skill set and going back to our younger days where … use everything! You make your own stock, every part of that carrot you are using. So we do everything we can to stretch everything.”
It may sound a bit crazy to jam five restaurants into one trailer but Josh Hyland, whose sushi restaurant Hyland House of Sushi participated in the Chefs Market, says it’s not the nuttiest thing he’s done.
“I actually opened in the middle of the pandemic,” Hyland said. “I’ve only been open since November so a lot of people told me I was crazy but, to be honest with you, we’re actually doing OK with the support of the community.”
That’s been the idea: find a way to do OK while helping those who aren’t.MORE NEWS: Fire Crews Respond To Wildfire Near Benicia
The restaurant owners hope happier days are right around the corner as they prepare to reopen outdoor dining on Tuesday. As a reult, Sunday is the last day the Chefs Market trailer will be operating in the downtown parking lot.