With many food businesses closed during the current coronavirus pandemic, some of those working in food service have found ways to keep busy and give back to the community. Chef Rainer Zinngrebe from Marriott International has been furloughed since March. Over the past two years, he has given his time and expertise to CFR Cooks! as a guest chef guiding volunteers from KindWorks. Working from a commercial kitchen at the Silver Spring United Methodist Church, they have turned ingredients from Manna’s warehouse into delicious meals for the Montgomery Coalition for the Homeless (MCCH) residents.
When everything shut down in March, Chef Rainer asked how he could help. But with the Church temporarily closed, CFR had nowhere to cook. So, he began working directly with MCCH and cooking out of his home. He gathers staples, meat and produce from Manna’s warehouse and fills in missing ingredients at his own expense. He prepares meals four times a week for 32 formerly homeless residents at MCCH’s Cordell Place.
One of the chef’s typical meals includes: lemon rosemary chicken breasts, Mexican rice, broccoli, and sautéed yellow squash with onions and thyme, as well as mixed greens with cherry tomatoes and corn, and vanilla fruit stew for dessert. He is assisted by his son and sometimes his wife, who will do dishes. Chef Rainer delivers the food himself.
Lynn Rose, MCCH Community Engagement Specialist, explained what these meals mean to the residents: “Many of the people we serve at Cordell have underlying medical and mental health issues from their experience of homelessness. The pandemic only makes that worse. Having a special chef bringing healthy and good food heals and helps both minds and bodies. Chef Ranier is a wonderful anchor in this storm!” Residents have expressed their thanks with homemade signs for the chef.
Chef Rainer is thrilled that his hands don’t sit idle and that he’s able to use a little bit of Manna’s food to cook with. Lynn sums up this unique partnership for this unique time, “Thank you Chef Ranier for all you do for our clients! And thank you to Manna and Community Food Rescue for helping the chef have healthy food to cook!”