Appetizers 9/4: Houston Restaurants Help With Hurricane Laura Relief

Houston restaurant workers take a photo in front of a "Houston is inspired" mural | Photo Credit: Steve Sharma

Welcome to Appetizers, OpenTable’s column that aims to uplift and motivate with a regular roundup of the most inspiring food-world news of the moment. Start your weekend with the things that are making us laugh, cry, think, and just plain hungry for more.

Making Us … Proud

In a shining example of neighbors helping neighbors, Houston restaurants came together this week to support those affected by Hurricane Laura. Restaurants such as El Big Bad, BOH Pasta, and more raised $14,575 to deliver 3,000 meals and supplies to first responders and the Cajun Navy volunteer group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. El Big Bad owner Steve Sharma says he and fellow restaurateur Ben McPherson were inspired to aid by the Louisiana citizens who came to Houston during Hurricane Harvey three years ago. 

“We would never forget the many citizens of Louisiana, specifically the Cajun Navy and other first responders, who drove to Houston to help us in our desperate time of need. We knew we could not stand by the wayside,” he says. “It was our turn to lend our helping, feeding hands to our neighbors.”

Sharma and McPherson are now working to turn their efforts — called Houston Chuckwagon — into a nonprofit organization so they can continue to help Lake Charles rebuild. Anyone who would like to support can reach out at houstonchuckwagon@gmail.com.

Making Us … Rapt

One of the food world’s most inspiring female chefs is the subject of a deeply reported profile in The New Yorker. Nina Compton is not only a James Beard Award winner and Top Chef finalist and fan favorite with two hit restaurants in New Orleans (Compère Lapin and Bywater American Bistro), but she also grew up the daughter of one of St. Lucia’s most influential politicians, this new profile reveals. The dive into Compton’s fascinating life is well worth a long-weekend read in full.

Making Us … Act

Urgent pleas to the government to help restaurants continue to roll in. Restaurateur Elizabeth Blau has written a call to arms in the Nevada Independent, arguing that the restaurant industry is “too important to fail.” Blau says legislation is necessary to assist with “business liability insurance protecting restaurateurs, tax credits helping restaurants to remain open or reopen, enforcement of business interruption insurance, expansion of eviction moratorium timelines, and a clear explanation of what constitutes a restaurant as compared to a bar or tavern — so in the ensuing clarity on capacity limitations, landlords and tenants can reach mutually beneficial resolutions amid forced closures.”

Join in on supporting legislation such as the RESTAURANTS ACT — a bi-partisan proposal that could give restaurants the lifeline they need through a $120 billion grant program meant to aid independent restaurants with paying rent, employees, and bills — by sending a pre-written letter to your local reps.

Making Us … Kvell

Previous Appetizers

August 21: The James Beard Awards Are Canceled This Year

August 12: New Documentary Shows What It Takes to Run a Restaurant During Coronavirus

July 24: Chefs Adjust Menus for Eating Outdoors

July 10: Restaurants Take to the Streets

June 25: How Restaurants Are Celebrating Pride This Year

June 19: Restaurants Get Creative With Reopening

June 12: Chefs Band Together for Black Lives Matter Bake Sale

June 8: Restaurants Rally Around the Black Community

May 29: California Restaurant Injects Whimsy Into Reopening

May 22: Ayesha Curry Launches a Lifestyle Magazine

May 15: Top Chefs Do Good