Local Chefs Get Creative During the Quarantine

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These are certainly strange times, aren’t they? In a turn of events typically relegated strictly to the science fiction section of the library, we’re now under quarantine “stay at home” orders with most non-essential business screeching to a grinding halt.

We’re all practicing social distancing, a term we had never even heard just a few weeks ago.

To say that we’re all adjusting to a completely altered state of normal is an understatement, but maybe none more so than our beloved local restaurants who had to quickly turn on a dime and change everything to stay afloat and survive through this epidemic. Asked to close their dining rooms, they’ve transitioned almost overnight to curbside takeout models.

What we don’t see, as loyal patrons, is how much blood sweat and tears these small local restaurants invest in order to survive. It’s not always visible to the naked eye that these aren’t just restaurants, but rather, they’re dreams. Dreams that often operate on small margins that rely on a steady business to sustain themselves.

But our local dreamers and chefs aren’t going down without a fight and they’re refusing to let this epidemic wipe out their livelihood. They’re getting creative, supporting each other, and finding new and innovative ways to stay afloat and serve the community they know and love.

Chefs meal prep covid

Watching them from afar (and sometimes up close) has been inspiring and fun. These dreamers are changing the face of an industry and breathing new life into their businesses with a little hard work, a ton of out-of-the-box thinking and a hefty dose of community spirit.

Here are a few of our favorites. We urge you to check them out and follow along as they continue to innovate and serve Frisco with new ways to keep the flavor alive.

The Rail District’s scratch kitchen restaurant has always been a Frisco favorite, known for Chef and Owner Rich Vana’s creative and mouth-watering farm to table dishes and fun cocktails. But what most of us didn’t know is that all of the cured and smoked meats we love, from the bourbon bacon to the pecan-smoked pastrami, are made entirely in house.

And, it’s this very art that’s allowing The Heritage Table to transform itself from a scratch kitchen to a Farm-to-Table Deli, offering curbside pick up of some of its best and finest meats, pastries, desserts, and condiments.

Sure, we can’t wait for the day that we can sit in the renovated farmhouse dining room again, but for now, we’ll settle for some take-out deviled eggs or Homemade Cinnamon Rolls as we socially distance ourselves.

You can now order from their curbside “Deli” menu on their website and pick up Wednesdays through Sundays each week. Stock up on some craft favorites and enjoy them all week long, courtesy of The Heritage Table’s creative hand.

It’s no secret that I’m a huge Crush Taco fan. True story, I might have a marriage proposal on the books for the cult favorite Cauliflower Taco. I love this local Frisco brand because of how Chef Mo Assi elevates the already beloved taco, how he manages to continually up his own game and how, even in the midst of this crisis, he’s focused on helping the community. Mo is always hustling and always growing.

Crush Taco 3Never has this been more apparent than right now, in the midst of social distancing, when Mo decided to go “all in” and team up with one of his distributors, Hardies Produce, to host a pop-up Farmers Market in his parking lot.

Offering everything from eggs to chicken to cauliflower to toilet paper, the first market was purely community-focused, helping us get what we need when we need it most.

Always one to up his game, though, Mo saw the success of his first market and realized he was truly meeting a need so he’s launching two new markets in the next few days.

Friday (I’m working with Todd Willamson and Allen Brothers Steaks. We’re going to do a Prime Steak Box, complete with 4 Prime Ribeyes, 10 Patties and Filet Mignon Tips. Then Saturday I’ll be working with Hardies and Rosewood Prime Steaks to offer 10-pound boxes of produce, milk, and eggs. I’ll also be selling Skinny Margarita Kits and Southern Greyhound Kits complete with Deep Eddy Vodka.

Clearly, Mo is meeting our needs AND our wants. Follow Mo and Crush Taco on social media (Facebook | Instagram | Twitter) for daily updates on their takeout offerings and pop-up markets. We’ll see you there!

Ok, so not necessarily in Frisco, but this right-next-door favorite has become one of my favorites to follow. Watching Chef John Richardson continually up his curbside game has kept me inspired, engaged, and (yes) hungry.

Day after day Haywire offers up new and creative ways to keep the community well-fed, well-wined and, yes, even well-cigared. With daily relief packages featuring everything (and we mean everything) you need to create a craft-kitchen replica meal in your very own home PLUS fun and unique daily offerings like drive-up sommelier service and curbside markets, Haywire is upping the game for all local restaurants in this new curbside world.

The best part, though, is how Richardson and his team are focusing their efforts on the community too. In the next few weeks, they plan to launch a relief fund for furloughed hospitality workers and are consistently giving back to those in the community who are working hardest to keep us safe.

Follow along on their social media (Facebook | Instagram) for the daily quarantine kit offerings and get ready to feast on a gourmet Texas-style dinner.

We all love Cane Rosso’s authentic Italian pizza, right? There is just something to be said about a pizza with fresh dough (made daily in-house) and sauce from fresh San Marzano tomatoes. The unmistakable bite and chew of the crust sets it apart and keeps us coming back for more.

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The food entices us to visit once, but it is the passion of owner Jay Jerrier beating and his heart for helping others that keeps us coming back for more. Jerrier’s heart and passion are on full display during this pandemic as Cane Rosso is an epi-center of helping our first responders and medical professionals in Frisco.

Recently, he launched a relief effort allowing generous patrons to purchase pizzas directly from their website to be delivered to doctors and nurses and local hospitals. He’s quick to defer the origin of the idea but that doesn’t take the heart out of it:

The idea actually came from a good friend of mine – Christian Petroni, owner of Fortina Pizza in NY and winner of Next Food Network Star. We’ve all been struggling with trying to take care of ourselves and our staff, but also trying to take care of the people on the front lines. We had a few donors buy 50 pizzas at a time to be sent to Baylor, Parkland, etc. We just thought this was a good way for anyone to contribute to the effort on a pizza-by-pizza basis.

It’s this heart and this initiative that sets Cane Rosso apart and keeps us all loyal to the flavor and to the mission. If you’re interested in donating a pizza, you can do so here.

This incredible neighborhood Italian restaurant found a truly unique way to give back to the community while helping those most at risk. And the best part, they did it expecting nothing in return.

Taking advantage of the fact that they had been closed for a few days, the team decided to use their clean kitchen to deliver healthy (and delicious) meals to local seniors who have been shut-in due to the quarantine and their high-risk vulnerability to corona. Festim Raka, one of the owners of Gallo Nero, explains:

We did the senior meals first because we’ve been closed for a week and there’s a lot less risk of spreading any virus from any surfaces, and we’ve been quarantined the whole time we were closed. We also know that the life of our seniors has been the one affected the most. They’re afraid to leave their homes (maybe rightfully so) but we hate it for them. All we wanted to do was to put smiles on their faces the best way we know how. FOOD!!!

These meals were delivered freely, with no contact and no charge. This truly amazing act of service truly exemplifies going above and beyond and we are so grateful to have Galle Nero in our community. For the rest of us, they have since reopened their curbside and delivery services, intent on providing all of Frisco with their delicious and authentic Italian comfort food as long as they can.

People Serving People

Even in this scary time, when the news is dire every time you look, there is good in the world. These restaurants are uniting and serving and creating new ways to meet needs doing what they do best. It’s beautiful to see.

But they’re not alone. So many of our local favorites have risen to the call, creating fun and delicious family-style meals for curbside pick-up like The Community Grill and Maple Street Biscuit Company or selling steaks and prime cuts of meat deli-style so you can cook them safely in your own homes like Fogo de Chao in Legacy West or Silver Fox Steakhouse.

There’s good out there in this world, people coming together, people serving people. You might have to look for it, but it’s there. Especially in our little town, it’s alive and well.