World renowned Houston chef Chris Shepherd has a message for food influencers that they might not want to hear: stop asking for free food during a pandemic.
Shepherd, a James Beard Award-winning chef, who was also last year named as the world’s best chef by Robb Report, posted a message on Instagram copying a conversation between a chef and an unnamed food blogger asking for complimentary food in exchange for a post.
"Friendly reminder to not be asking independent restaurants for free food ever, but especially right now. Restaurants have the tiniest profit margins and are hanging on by a thread right now. Millions of people are without jobs. Millions more are about to be without jobs. This is extremely tone-deaf. Be better. Support restaurants by dining in, ordering to-go or getting food delivered. Support local."
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As you may know, restaurant revenues have been cut by more than 70 percent due to COVID-19, and every dollar we have is going to pay rent or our staff to keep them employed. The best way to support restaurants right now is not to ask for free food and write about it on your blog but to purchase food and drinks so they can stay open amid this crisis. Another way to support restaurants is to donate to @southernsmoketx , a crisis relief fund for those in the food and beverage industry nationwide. @southernsmoketx has received more than 30,000 applications for assistance since Covid began, and we expect many more since restaurants have not received any stimulus from the government and unemployment benefits have expired. It’s not possible for restaurants to give free food to anyone right now. I would like to thank all of you fine folks that come in and post our dishes and restaurants all over you social media platforms because you like us and what we do. My hat goes off to you. Thank you @nuray_e_t for posting this
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With the restaurant industry facing its biggest challenge for decades and many struggling to survive, some would be surprised to read that food influencers still think it’s appropriate to look for handouts from small business giving everything to try and keep their staff employed.
For those who are, instead, looking to help restaurants, Shepherd encouraged them to donate to his nonprofit Southern Smoke Foundation, which helps restaurant workers facing financial hardship. The chef said the foundation has received more than 30,000 applications for assistance since the pandemic began.