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Style & Living Top Chef

Top Chef Season 17 Contestants Share How They Have Been Impacted by Coronavirus

Contestants on Bravo's Top Chef are sharing various ways to help the hospitality industry. 

By Abby Feiner
Top Chef Cast Coronavirus Restaurants

As coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread, the hospitality industry, among many others, has been left absolutely devastated. Some restaurants have closed their doors, both temporarily and permanently, while others have opted to solely provide take-out and/or delivery services. The competitors and judges on Bravo's Top Chef Season 17 are among those whose businesses have been negatively affected by the pandemic. 

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On Sunday, March 15, Top Chef lead judge Tom Colicchio revealed he made "the hardest decision I’ve ever faced in my 40 years in this industry, to temporarily close Craft and our family of restaurants in NYC and L.A." While his business is no longer operating, he is encouraging any followers (who are able to) to purchase a Crafted Hospitality gift card in order to support his staff. He explained in the post: "50% of the proceeds of all gift certificates purchased between today and April 30th will be placed into a staff fund to help financially support our employees."

Nancy Silverton, who appeared as guest judge on the season premiere, is providing aid for restaurant-industry professionals who have suffered layoffs or significantly reduced hours due to the virus. Running the operation out of her chi SPACCA space, the restaurateur behind Mozza is offering daily free meals and basic supplies such as diapers, toilet paper, and canned foods. Each day, Nancy and her team will prep 300 to-go meals, with pickup hours of 5:30 to 8:30pm, and meals limited to two per person, with exceptions for those facing emergency situations.
The series' beloved contestants are also making overwhelmingly difficult decisions when it comes to their businesses. Scroll down for updates on the state of each contestant's place of work, the actions they are taking to support the larger industry, and what anyone who is able to help can do to support the industry during this incredibly trying time. 

Brian Malarkey, who has temporarily closed the doors on all of his restaurants, donated all of the food to his staff, as he shared in a recent Instagram post. "Until we can better understand this virus, we want to prioritize the health and well-being of this city we love," he wrote in a separate post. "We hope by taking these proactive measures that we are doing our small part to stop the spread."

To purchase a gift card for Brian's newest restaurant, Herb & Sea, click here.

Bryan Voltaggio revealed that one of his restaurants, VOLT, is temporarily closing its doors. "We must do our part to keep everyone as safe as possible," he wrote. "During this time we encourage everyone in our industry and beyond to support all small business in anyway you can. Online shopping for gift cards and goods, use take out services if you can. When we all get through this, be the first to book a reservation and come back to see us." 

Another one of his restaurants, Family Meal, is providing curbside pick-up and delivery via DoorDash, Bryan explained in an Instagram post. STRFSH, meanwhile, has switched to takeout services via the Ritual app (drive-thru pickup is also available for Ritual app customers) and by partnering with Postmates, Grubhub, UberEats, and DoorDash.

To purchase Bryan's cookbook, HOME, or to purchase a gift card to one of his restaurants, click here.

Kevin Gillespie has closed all Red Beard restaurants until further notice. "We will plan to create a daily menu of whole home meal replacements that will be available for pickup or delivery," he wrote on Instagram. "Quantities will be limited, as I intend to be the one spearheading this project in order to keep as many of our employees at home and as safe as possible."  

To purchase Red Beard gift cards or merchandise, click here.

Angelo Sosa  has had to postpone the opening of his two new restaurants, Small Barn and Wolfies Carousel Bar, due to the effects of the pandemic. 

To purchase Angelo's cookbook, click here.

Gregory Gourdet's Departure is currently offering takeout orders while also helping to support an important cause. "We will be making a $1 donation for every carry out order placed at our restaurant to Feeding America, an organization helping local food banks respond to COVID-19," reads a statement from the restaurant's official Instagram page. "You can help by choosing carry out from us or any of our participating sister restaurants from Sage Restaurant Concepts. We're currently offering curbside pick-up at the valet to limit interaction — you don't have to exit your car."

To purchase a gift card to Departure, click here. 

Joe Sasto is asking his followers to sign a petition to provide aid and assistance for all service industry employees and operators affected by COVID-19. 

To sign the petition, click here.

Jamie Lynch's 5 Street Group has temporarily paused all operations at their restaurants. 

To purchase a 5Church gift card, click here.

Lee Anne Wong's restaurant, Koko Head Cafe, is offering curbside takeout and delivery for their entire menu, even including daily specials, which can be found on social media. Additionally, she is offering discounted gift cards and merchandise and is encouraging anyone who is able to donate to a GoFundMe to support her staff. "100% of the proceeds are going to my team, to help them survive during this period of uncertainty," she wrote on Instagram. "Your kindness will help us to get back to business when the time is right, together, as a team and family."

Lee Anne also made a plea to Top Chef fans to continue to give their local restaurants business. "As everyone hunkers down tonight to watch the premiere of @bravotopchef , please make sure you are thinking about your favorite places to eat in your area, and giving them all the support you can right now, whether it be through take out, delivery, gift cards, merchandise, or crowdfunding," she wrote. "Help keep our industry alive....customers, food fans, you are the other half of the equation and we can’t get through this without you!"

To donate to Lee Anne's GoFundMe, click here.

Nini Nguyen recently asked her followers to help feed New York City children who have lost access to meals due to school closures by supporting the Food Education Fund. "You can help financially, by volunteering," she wrote. "And for my restaurant friends here in the city, you can donate food to the schools TODAY!"

For more information about how to support the Food Education Fund, click here. 

Jennifer Carroll is asking her followers to sign a petition to demand aid from the City of Philadelphia for service industry and small business workers.

To sign the petition, click here. 

Lisa Fernandes's Sweet Chili is offering takeout and delivery until 9 p.m, as well as other support. "Need someone to talk to? Can't afford a meal? Need TP, gloves or bleach?" Lisa wrote on Instagram, noting that gift cards are available for purchase. "We got you! We have to stay strong and support each other."  In a separate post, Lisa explained the further stress of operating the newly-opened restaurant: "NYC will only provide relief if your restaurant has been open 6 months. We have been open 5."

To purchase a gift card to Sweet Chili, click here.

Melissa King shared that she recently helped World Central Kitchen and chef Jose Andres push out "1500 tri-tip dinners and 200 vegetarian pastas" to "the cornavirus-stricken cruise ship that docked so close to home in Oakland." She added: "As you take your own CV precautions, don’t forget to look at your own community and see how you can support them. Maybe it’s volunteering, or ordering delivery from your favorite local restaurant as you bunker up at home." 

To make a donation to World Central Kitchen, click here. 

Karen Akunowicz's restaurant, Fox and the Knife, remains open and has a takeout menu available. Additionally, they are selling orders of homemade pasta in order to "continue to feed our community, safely and responsibly."

To purchase a gift card for Fox and the Knife, click here.

Eric Adjepong has not yet commented on the state of his business, Pinch and Plate, or how the spread of the virus will effect the launch of his forthcoming fast-casual counter selling roti flatbreads and doubles in Northeast D.C.’s Union Market food hall. 

Stephanie Cmar is hopeful that the show will bring people a bit of mental relief, writing on Instagram: "In such a troubled time I hope that the top chef premier brings you joy!!!!!!"

For the latest, most accurate information on the coronavirus pandemic, go to the World Health Organization (WHO) website. 

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