LAKEVIEW — Chicago’s “party school of cooking classes” has taken on four local chefs who were furloughed by the coronavirus pandemic to offer curbside dinners and at-home cooking kits.
Jason Bailin, owner of Get In The Kitchen at 3617 N. Broadway, came up with the service as a way for laid-off chefs to find work and for him ease the pandemic’s financial impact on the business.
Bailin said the chefs helped him create five weekly food and drink menus for customers.
“We have the space and they have the skills,” Bailin said
Before the pandemic hit, Get in the Kitchen had “just hit its stride” said Bailin, who quit his job as an investment banker in 2018 to open the business. Its holiday season was booked with corporate parties, and the kitchen’s monthly Cooking With Drag Queens class was a hit. Those have been canceled due to COVID-19.
Looking for ways to make up for some of that lost income, Bailin posted an online ad looking for local chefs interested in renting his space at a minimal fee so they could launch their own carryout businesses. Within weeks, Bailin found a team of chefs — including himself — and launched the carryout service.
“The business was dying and they had no income, so it’s been a great symbiotic relationship between us,” Bailin said.
Bailin’s first two chefs, 24-year-old Jameel “JD” Darwish and 27-year-old Trevor White, created two menus of fresh meals that people can order to go.
Darwish, previously of Yūgen, created Mr. Oiishi, a selection of Asian comfort foods inspired by his recent trip to Hong Kong and Southeast Asia.
White, previously a chef at Violet Hour, created Ashborne Food Co., a selection of “elevated comfort foods” that put a French twist on his Midwestern roots.
White said after spending two weeks waiting on unemployment checks, he jumped at the chance to get back in the kitchen.
“I got sick of hearing that chefs are doomed and wanted to do something positive with my time,” White said. “We all put so much time and effort into this industry, and I want to see it adjust and thrive.”
Darwish said this is their first time creating a pop-up menu, but the support from Bailin and the community has kept him going.
“When we’re in the kitchen making our food, selling it and people are enjoying it, it gives us hope that the industry has a future, and we’ll be a part of it,” Darwish said.
Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Boystown and Lincoln Park for Block Club Chicago.
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