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Covington Restaurant Aids Community Kitchen Program as Need Rises

It has been a “helluva year” for Bouquet Restaurant in Covington to turn 13, according to chef Stephen Williams. 

“It’s been a (hard) year for a lot of people, even more so than normal,” Williams said. “If there is something we can do to make someone’s day a little bit better, we’re going to do it.”

Williams and his team at Bouquet do it by preparing about 350 meals per week for La Soupe’s Community Kitchen Program – a direct response to Covid. La Soupe is an organization dedicated to ending food waste by making it into nutritious soupes and meals.

Bouquet Restaurant has worked with La Soupe for about five years. Currently La Soupe is producing more than 20,000 servings per week; their network has grown to more than 100 partner agencies, churches, schools and community centers.

“Our team has always been passionate about helping the community,” Williams said when it came to helping with the Community Kitchen program. “Especially when it comes to nourishment. La Soupe’s systems lets us give back to the community more than we ever thought possible.”

The Community Kitchen Program, according to La Soupe founder Suzy DeYoung, has been “logistically challenging, but the impact and outreach has surpassed our expectations.”

“When so many restaurants were forced to close their doors, the amount of food we were being asked to rescue was astounding,” she said. “We quickly raised enough money to pay other restaurants to continue cooking for us.”

La Soupe volunteers deliver the protein they rescue to each restaurant so their chefs can creates meals. Volunteers then pick up and deliver to various outreaches. 

“We were able to provide meals at twenty Cincinnati Public School feeding sites, as well as supplement other agencies,” DeYoung said. “We grew this program to include 18 restaurants, geographically and ethnically diverse where they are paired with someone close to them.”

According to De Young, the program has offered a “wonderful in the sense of community.”

“We have this program almost funded through the end of 2020, and if we continuing into 2021 if we can fund it,” she said. “These restaurants have been able to maintain staff  and a steady income comes in. They are producing about 20,000 servings a week. In addition to ours, that is 40,000 servings total.”

Williams said he is grateful to the program – to keep up and running and to be able to continue to give back to the community. 

“Suzy is an amazing person doing great things for our community,” he said. “For years I thought (my work) was about the food, but it’s really about the people,” he said. “The restaurant team that had become my family, the farmers that are now my friends and the guests that have become decade long regulars.”

-Melissa Reinert, RCN contributor

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