They say a good deed is its own reward. Some people just love helping others, without a second thought of their own personal gain. They are simply in it for the satisfaction of knowing they have acted selflessly and helped someone else in a time of need. It is these “good eggs” (pun intended!) who should be celebrated for their noble acts of kindness, and in that light we’ve chosen some culinary heroes to honor.
Chef Mason Wartman
Mason Wartman quit his Wall Street job at the age of 25 to open up his own pizzeria in Philadelphia, selling slices for $1 each. He left what he called “the best job I ever had” in order to follow his dream of opening his own restaurant. Mason’s restaurant, Rosa’s Fresh Pizza, is different, however, because of his innovative business model, in which people would buy a slice and then “pay it forward” for the next patron. Mason would take the extra dollar and put a post-it note on the wall, signifying that a slice of pizza had been bought. When a homeless person would enter his establishment, he would use a post-it note as a coupon, allowing that person to take an already bought slice of pizza. Mason’s “Pay-it-forward Pizza” model even earned him a spot on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, and though he does make a profit (it is a restaurant, after all!), he takes pride in helping those who are less fortunate.
Chef Christopher Neary
Another great example of an unsung hero is Chef Christopher Neary. Neary used two weeks of his personal vacation time to travel to the Philippines in order to teach culinary students there about New England Cooking, as well as American history. He taught the students how the early American settlers lived off the land and how they ate chowder, clams, corn and potatoes, codfish stew and cakes, and he taught them how to cook these dishes as well. Though he missed his own wife and children during his time away, he loved the opportunity to help the people there learn about a different culture, and the experience there changed his life forever. Neary is now quite involved in the Chef & Child Foundation, which helps to fight childhood hunger and obesity through culinary education and donations.
Chef Lyndon Honda
Finally, Maui Chef and catering company owner Lyndon Honda raised over $40,000 to help the people of Pahoa during a very difficult period. Tropical Storm Iselle, as well as volcano Kilauea’s ongoing eruptions had devastated the area, and Honda took it upon himself to reach out to his representatives for help. He rallied the chefs from Maui and Big Island, and organized culinary events to help raise money for the cause. Thanks to his efforts, the schools, local farmers, medical center and many more people received grants to help them recover from the disaster. Honda’s selflessness may well have saved countless lives, and for that we thank him!
Do you know any other unsung heroes in the culinary industry? Post their stories below, we’d love to hear about them!