Chefs cook in pop-up soup kitchen

HUDSON—With the closure of some restaurants in the city during the coronavirus, Swoon’s chef Jaime Parry and le Perche’s John Carr were temporarily out of work.

Mr. Parry was trained at Montrachet and Tribeca Grill in New York and Mr. Carr had a career at Sfogia and with Eli Zabar in the city before they came north.

Both have been creating high-end dinners in Hudson for several years. Now, they were hoping to use their talents to help during the crisis, according to a press release.

First they found an outlet for their skills cooking lunches at the venerable Salvation Army kitchen, which has been serving food for years and had seen a doubling of demand within a week of the outbreak.

Then Carole Clark approached them with an idea. She wanted to create a fully-working soup kitchen within a month. Ms. Clark, herself a former chef, was proprietor of Charleston Restaurant, an early fine-dining restaurant in Hudson. Now quarantined, Ms. Clark was looking for a way to serve from home the growing numbers of families in need.

Given the emergency and the temporary nature of the soup kitchen, she decided against forming her own non-profit. Instead, with the help of her friend, Pamela Kline, she gathered local religious, political and established non-profits to provide the structure and systems she needed to get started, the release said.

Christ Church Episcopal loaned its kitchen, the First Presbyterian Church provided the basis for collecting donations; and the sponsorship of the Columbia County Democratic Committee supplied liability insurance.

The Columbia County Recovery Kitchen was born.

Now Ms. Clark needed the people to feed and the means to feed them. Her focus was on, but not limited to, the particularly vulnerable immigrant communities. So, she reached out to the county social services, the Columbia County Sanctuary Movement, and public school social workers, who provided the lists of recipients. With the help of these agents and local towns, she also found volunteer drivers to deliver the meals.

The local established soup kitchens rely mostly on generous but random donations from local supermarkets and the regional food bank. Unlike them, the Recovery Kitchen does not receive food donations but is relying on private donations, a GoFundMe campaign, and a grant from the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation. This gives Chef Parry and Chef Carr the opportunity to develop their own menus, purchase selected ingredients from wholesalers and local farms, and cook healthy delicious meals for people who need them the most and who have the least access to them.

This Recovery Kitchen was up in running within a month of conception, with Ms. Clark and Ms. Kline splitting the organizational and management tasks to maintain a smooth running operation. On day 3 after its launch on April 24, the chefs created 200 dinners.

The funding sources for the Recovery Kitchen are most likely not sustainable over the long term, but the money they are now bringing in should keep the kitchen going until the end of the crisis and, with luck, beyond. When asked what he would do when restaurants opened again, Mr. Parry said in the release, “This has brought me back to the beginning, cooking for people. I will find a way to continue what we have started.”

People can donate at https://www.gofundme.com/f/the-recovery-kitchen-for-the-food-emergency

For more information contact Ms. Clark at or call 518-851-8987.

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