Having grown up in his family’s small Mexican restaurant business, Louie’s heart goes out to all family-run restaurants. Alongside his hard-working parents, he managed the cash register at a young age and cooked with his father in the kitchen. His wages were his tips. This motivated him to be the best waiter -- and the generous tips proved how much their guests enjoyed their meals and his hospitality. And whenever we walk into an empty restaurant, I see how sad Louie becomes. Imagine the effects on him during Covid times.
Last Father’s Day, we celebrated with a few relatives with an afternoon meal outside. Six feet apart, we had our table, and they had theirs. I surprised Louie with his gift -- professional chef’s knives -- that arrived packaged like a prized acquisition. Weighted and designed to chop safely, he was happy.
Now it’s almost Christmas. I went back to Made In’s website to checkout professional quality skillets. Louie loves his old iron skillets, never mind that they are heavy and require seasoning to maintain their cooking qualities. Me on the other hand…
When I saw Made In’s hybrid skillet made with both stainless steel and iron, I got excited. Even distribution of heat, searing just like in restaurants, and long curved handles for safe handling and maneuvering around the stove -- standouts that made me click “Place in Cart.” I couldn’t wait to hide this gift in the garage.
On the website, I also noticed an opportunity to support the Independent Restaurant Coalition, a group formed to help the independent restaurant industry and its workers devastated by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Dining establishments and connected businesses “…are the lifeblood of our economy and our communities…” and desperately need our help. The coalition is working hard to have Congress approve the RESTAURANTS Act of 2020 that would create a Restaurant Revitalization Fund to help the industry survive. We are now making a heartfelt monthly donation to help in this effort. It’s also our tribute to Louie’s parents and “Casa Lucero.”
In addition, our donation opened the door to join Made In’s December 10 virtual “cook-a-long” with Chef Tom Colicchio. The small fee for the live class ($30) would also be donated to the coalition. Via email, I received the easy fall recipe – Roasted Pork Chops with Apples, Sweet Potatoes and Leeks. Louie couldn’t wait.
But as he read the recipe, he came to the part that read, “Supplies Needed: Made In Blue Carbon Steel 12-inch Pan.” I cringed. “Hmm…,” said Louie, “…I want to look at their website.” Sweating bullets, I didn’t have the heart to wait until Christmas to give him his very own carbon steel pan for the class. I ran to get the box in the garage because we still had enough time for him to season and prep it before its maiden meal. With a big smile, Louie methodically unpacked it and began seasoning the pan.
Like when he used to get mentally ready for racquetball competitions, Louie entered a Zen state and quietly prepared all the ingredients before the class started at 4:00 p.m. – seasoning the chops and cutting all the veggies. With his laptop set up on the kitchen counter, he cooked “side-by-side” with Chef Colicchio who was also cooking at home. And the fearless chef that he is, Louie improvised where necessary. It didn’t take long for my taste buds to tingle as gorgeous aromas permeated the room. This was going to be our dinner!
The gorgeous and colorful one-pot meal was so picture-perfect in the pan, Louie proudly carried it from the stove and placed it on a trivet on the dining table.
Chef Colicchio’s class brought in $20,000 for the coalition. Signing up for a cooking class has never had more meaning than this one.
This is your country, and it’s up to you to save it.” – English translation of a saying in Taiwan
Washing Hands + Wearing a Mask + Social Distancing = Saving Lives