How six restaurants teamed up to feed Montreal hospitals' front-line workers

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MONTREAL -- Six Montreal restaurants with Asian menus came together to create a special offering for some deserving diners on Monday.

The chefs teamed up to prepare original dishes that were donated to the hard working staff at the Children’s and Jewish General Hospitals. The feast was organized by food blogger Raj Brar. On his Instagram page he posted a link to a GoFundMe page, asking for help. Brar said the event was his way to celebrate his own birthday by helping others.

"Basically, I said 'Why don't we make this huge?' So, we're donating over 100 meals to the Children’s and the Jewish General, to the front-line workers," he said. 

Brar said he wants to support two groups that are struggling through this pandemic: health care workers and restaurants. So, he’s buying from one to feed the other with this project called #FoodiesGiveBack

One of the chefs involved is Cindy Ha of Au 14 Prince Arthur.

“A GoFundMe page to collect money is a way of giving back to the front-liners and the money that he's collecting, he's giving back to the restaurants. so it's helping out the restaurants and the front-line workers," she said, adding that the idea originated months ago and the chefs were happy to get together to cook. 

Chef Tota Oumg, owner of Verdun's Les Street Monkeys said “We’re in this industry for a reason, which is to serve, so the minute that we have to just work together and have a bit of fun and at the same time provide to a community, especially the front-liners that are working so hard, putting their lives at risk, it's a no-brainer."

With all that great talent in one kitchen, the collaborations were full of imagination and flavours: Cambodian ingredients, Hong Kong style items, vegan Vietnamese snack foods, Hawaiian-Philipine foods and Thai shrimp, all served in individual boxes lined with a piece of banana leaf.

Wilson Luu of Le Petit Vibe in Cote-des-Neiges said he :never thought of a restaurant as a competitior, more as a community. The more we talk, the more we can be a community and work together.”

Eric Ku of Dobe & Andy in Chinatown said the chefs don't mind working on their day off for this project at all.

“It’s kind nice to have five, six restaurants in the same place and bounce ideas off each other, We kind of work together. The collaboration is amazing.”

Each warm meal was packed into a brown paper bag, and then a cool section with a fresh Italian cannoli from Bistro Amerigo is added, and even some Guzzo popcorn, plus a bubbly drink.

Chef Shawn Dascal from Baba Thai used to be a contributor on the web-series “Epic Meal Time” and, with 100 big bags going to two hospitals, this offering was epic, indeed.

“We're working hard, busting every day and we have to shout-out to people on the other side," he said. “They're taking care of our community…and we want to take care of them”.

So, on his birthday, Raj drove his loaded-to-the-top SUV, making two trips and celebrating by serving others some nourishment for body and soul.