Farewell 2020

from A Kitchen Survivor.

        Anticipating this final column of the year, we hope the new year brings healing and relief for so many. Social engagement, intimate dining and community enclaves gone, seemingly at once.  Oh, for that French bakery we went to every Saturday after the Farmers Market. I am all but tasting the buttery layers of a raisin croissant, now a memory,

       For a Food Passionist, the pandemic is The Plague. Something so evil took away our beloved way of life. Having recently built quite a community of new friends at various country clubs and foodie groups as Celebrity Chef and culinary confidante, my livelihood came crashing to the ground. An industry under siege from every angle, in every port; transformation, big-time!

       Strolls around the farmers market were shut down — hard-workers at meat processing plants were forced to risk their lives (families too) just to make a rent payment. As if the daily struggles of owning a small business were not enough, huge corporations received millions, while the engine of the country was left defenseless –  servers, hotel workers and millions more were left with only a few months of a partial unemployment – no doubt since run out. Ways of life tarnished unrecognizably and many permanently.

         Although I am tempted to turn into a couch potato witnessing a world in chaos, I instead do what I do in the time of sadness: takin’ it to the kitchen! I bake cookies, and recently mastered the art of an apple pie. Through my culinary lens, I was able to partner with Dakin Dairy on the cookie project…..bringing milk and (I dare say) my scrumptious cookies to first responders, hospitals, Girls Inc., and the like. In fact, people eagerly donated to the cause. The front liners needed something sweet to know that we appreciated them. A mere cookie and chocolate milk seemed to make the day somewhat more tolerable. In the midst of feeling joy, a sadness, a loss, perhaps even a trauma resonates, there was still a loss in my heart. Routine upended, security threatened, a future clouded: an industry under siege. An economy built on engagement suddenly lacking thereof.

         At our last Zoom meeting for MY Cooking Magazine, we reflected upon life’s unfairness and often toxic injustice. So, with knowledge of food lines growing exponentially and the cruel treatment to small business and its workers, we dedicate this issue. To all those who have somehow taken any step possible to keep the doors open, even marginally at 20%., we are grateful for your commitment. We dedicate this issue to all whose identities are being shaken, from the farmers to the chefs to the food vendors.

       2021 must bring back more than a sense of normalcy. A renewed alliance, enlightened by the wrath of the pandemic’s inhumanity, must be forged between the forces of the future and the workers on Main Street and beyond. The industry is built on the human touch – the choice is ours!

A graduate of Johnson & Wales, Judi has managed restaurants and owned restaurants in the northeast and was the founder of a successful dessert company. Today, she is a sought-after restaurant consultant, TV cook on the ABC affiliate in her hometown, and culinary editor of a city magazine. Her personal passions are culinary travel to exotic places and holiday cooking in her home for huge gatherings of friends and relatives. Her guilty pleasure? Bruce Springsteen concerts. “I follow him around the country and have for years,” she admits. “But, in every city where Bruce sings, I do check out new restaurants and talk to up and coming chefs. I want all the food news I can get.”

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