Charlotte chefs

Charlotte Chefs and Restaurants lend a helping hand

I have always said that very wonderful things happen when and where Charlotte chefs gather.

And, it is incredible how very short of a time it takes. In less that 48 hours, chefs and restaurants have made a decisive shift in the way they do business. All in an effort to help our community get through this COVID-19 crisis and still enjoy great local food.

Let’s Talk Take-Out, and Gift Certificates, too.

You know that new restaurant you’ve been wanted to try, or that old favorite spot where you frequently dine? Right now, they need your support. As the CDC is urging us practice the art of social distancing, so that we might stop the spread of COVID-19, the restaurant industry has begun to suffer.

You can help local restaurants keep business going with a simple online or over-the-phone order of a gift certificate.

Many restaurants are offering special deals as incentives right now. But the truth is, if its a restaurant you love, you already know its a great value. Show your support with a gift certificate order now. Then, plan to go out with friends to enjoy, once we are on the other side of this storm.

But, what if you want to eat with a local restaurant now? As I write this on Monday March 16, Charlotte restaurants are still open for business. All are working hard to make your dining experience a safe and healthy one, should you choose to eat out. But, better yet, here is the smarter move. You can still be a customer, enjoy chef-driven local cuisine and keep your distance, too. How? Two words: Take-Out.

Take Out and Eat Dinner in Your PJ’s

I can’t think of one restaurant in Charlotte that wouldn’t be delighted for you to order a meal-to-go. This enables you to have a great restaurant meal in the comfort of you own home. And, perhaps on the sofa in your PJ’s.

Look for frequent updates on this list. I’ll also be reposting opportunities for creative ways to eat out in my social media feeds as they present themselves. In the meantime, here are a several delicious suggestions.

Social Distancing Doesn’t Have to be Dismal

In addition to-go offerings, many restaurant, such as Global Restaurant in Pineville, have come up with creative solutions for pick up, too. Chef Bernard Brunet and team have temporarily created their own “Global Drive Thru”, here is how it works. Call the Restaurant to place your order 704-835-1072. They will give you a time for pick up. Drive to the to the parking lot behind the restaurant, where you will see the back entrance of the restaurant. This is generally reserved for employees and deliveries. Call them when you arrive and they will bring your order out to your car.

At Zeppelin in SouthEnd, Chef Vince Giancarlo and his team are working on a menu list of creative boxed dinners you’ll want to be sure and order. I recently reconnected with Vince and Zeppelin at a Tasting Collective dinner there late last month. I can’t begin to describe the local deliciousness on the plate and in the glass. Can’t wait to see what is included in the boxed to-go dinner options.

Eating Gluten Free? Chef Hannah Riley has you covered. Check out has gluten free to-go curbside pickup meals for purchase on her website at Alternative Chef NC

Curbside pick up and delivery, too!

Chef Julia Simon of Nourish Charlotte regularly provides local organic vegan meals, delivered to your home for subscribers. Check out this week’s menu offerings here and know that now you can also order a la carte.

On the March 16 take out and pick up menu at 300 East. Bronzed Sesame Verlasso Sustainable Salmon, sauteed kale, short grain rice and Shoyu for two.

Family Meals are always fun at 300 East in Charlotte’s Dilworth neighborhood. Of course, that’s a given, with chefs Ashley Boyd and Laney Parrish at the helm on the sweet and savory sides of the kitchen. Look for to-go family meals for 2 & 4 every day of the week with curbside pick up to make it all even easier. Plus you can also get 20% off on the purchase of any bottle of wine ordered to go with your to go. You can call to order and for daily menu info at 704-332-6507.

And, because man and woman cannot live on take out food alone, even in the wake of a virus; Elizabeth Dover and her team at Dover Vineyards will be doing free delivery for wine orders over $100.

Chef Geoff Bragg and his crew at Common Market in Oakwood, are doing curbside pick up and delivery. And it encompasses more that just menu items – it’s for anything in the store – just call and place an order. If you need sliced deli products ( sold by the pound) they are happy to help with that as well. Website link is here, but follow their social media on Instagram and FB – for the fastest updates.

Smile and say cheese, please. Orrman’s Cheese Shop at 7th Street Market is offering curbside pick up or free delivery with orders of $100 or more to certain zip codes. Best to call for specific details. Starting Monday March 16, you can enjoy 25% off the price of some cheeses and all the extras in the cheese shop – this offer excludes menu items and cheese club offerings.

Uptown Catering located at Morehead and Freedom Drive is offering curbside pickup of hot and ready meals as well as cold packed meals for families of 4 and more. Call 704 332-5521 for specifics and menu details.

Some Friendly Advice: Be Patient and Kind. Remember this shift in service is new for us all – restaurants included. When you call to place your order, ask for an estimated time for pick up and for the specific place to pull in your car. Most of these are not restaurants with drive thru’s, so they are taking a creative approach to help you eat well.

Even though you are picking up to go, please remember to tip, just has you would if you were ordering inside. All the restaurant employees are working hard to make this work. Go in knowing that there are bound to be some kinks here and there. Everyone is doing their best. We will get through this together.

New to working from home?

It’s easy to be afraid of an unknown. The word of the hour seems to be “pivot” – wish I could say I thought of that, but I took it from a recent Doterra post about creating a shift in how you think about things right now. We are all in pivot position, experiencing a shift in how we work, how we socialize and how we cook and eat.

Between televised newscasts, emails and teleconferencing, think of all the things that have not been cancelled. It will make you feel better and a little less afraid.

You can take a walk outside ( just stay away from crowds) or go dig in your garden – I find both of these to be very grounding when I am stressed. Plan to wash your car, play games with your kids or catch up on all the books you want to read.

We are lucky we live in a digital age, so even those under self or doctor recommended quarantine are not so all alone. If you can’t get out or are afraid to do so, online shopping is a wonderful thing. And if you are looking for something to help you adjust to all the new, FaceTime with your best friend, take an online course, or work on honing you cooking skills.

If you need help, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask. There are plenty of people out there who will lend a hand – just read on below.

Cooking at home is a great way to relax

I’ll be posting more recipes posts this week – most of them starting with a box, bottle, package or jar you can keep (or might already have) on hand in the pantry, fridge or freezer. And as my televised cooking segments and appearances have been postposted till next month, I am working on some tasty online How-to Videos, as well.

In the meantime, check out these how to videos from my list of previously televised cooking spots.

Heidi Billotto’s Miso and Hempeh Sesame Salad click here for the video recipe

And, in case you missed it, several months ago it was my pleasure to appear on the local PBS series Charlotte Cooks with chef Pamela Roberts. If you want some great recipes for cooking with local Smiling Hara Hempeh and Miso Masters Miso, tune in here – I’ll be doing a post with more recipes to accompany the video later this week.

Meanwhile, here is a sprinkle of sugar for your day, Chef Jossie Lukachik of Sweet Spot Studio is releasing sales for her first online class the evening of March 16! All physical materials will be provided at 3 pickup points. Also, Jossie sells lots of different cookie and cake kits to make at home baking tons of fun. What a great family project to share with your kids! Check it all out on her website.

Chef Alyssa and Andrew Wilen and the team at Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen are also going to offer online cooking classes. In addition, they offer meal delivery to Charlotte and surrounding communities area. And if you’d like to drive by, there is curbside pick-up with a call-ahead. Take-out options are available for all of their family meals.

Here’s how you can help chefs help others

First Governor Roy Cooper announced North Carolina School closings. Then, this happened. What started as one restauranteur’s offer to his community, has grown into a major group undertaking. In less that 48 hours, a group of Charlotte chefs have joined forces to help feed hungry kids for the next several weeks.

Its a time when the restaurant business in our city, our state and our country has taken a hard hit. And yet, these chefs are giving back as a part of a program that sets up a win-win.

Comfort Comes Between Two Slices of Bread

The idea is the brain child of Christopher Sottile owner of The Loyalist Market in Matthews. He made his initial announcement in a social media post on Saturday March 14, 2020. Here is what he said…

Photo Courtesy of The Loyalist Market. Photo credit to LocalsCarolinas on instagram

“Starting Tuesday (we’re closed Mondays), we will be giving out a free grilled cheese, ham sandwich, or turkey sandwich to any child currently receiving free lunches within the NC school system until March 30th. We’ve been known to turn a bad situation into a good one before, so we’re not taking any time to keep that trend going! Please share this with anyone you think it might be able to help, and we hope to be a small part of getting our community through this unprecedented and challenging time.”

That post got 1.3 K shares on Facebook and even more on Instagram. Chris was overwhelmed by the response. Determined to make this work, he reached out to other area chefs via the Piedmont Culinary Guild.

Before the end of the weekend, Chris had a group of chefs, restaurants and staff all willing to help. And there is a GoFundMe page set up, so that the community at large can help, too.

The fact that his plan includes paying restaurant staff in need of additional work, truly makes it a win-win. Just one more example of how Charlotte chefs and our closely knit restaurant community help each other at every turn.

Here is how you can help

If you’d like to be a part of this chef-driven, community-supported concept; and you are in a position to help, the group needs your financial backing.  The goal: to raise $16,000, to serve 250 local kids lunch for the rest of the month. And additionally, to write paychecks to a handful of people that otherwise wouldn’t have been earning one. 

Click Here for the link to the GoFundMe page. #TellThemHeidiSentYou. Thanks in advance for your help and thanks, too, to each of these participating local businesses.

The Loyalist Market in Matthews
Baked & Tempered aka 4th Corner Bakehouse in Waxhaw
Good Cup Coffee in Matthews
True Crafted Pizza in Charlotte
Nothing But Noodles
Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen
Johnson & Wales University
Noble Smoke
Your Mom’s Donuts
Alternative Chef
Heist Brewing Barrel Arts
Sweet Girl Cookies
Queen Charlotte Pimento Cheese
Sweet’s Syrup

If you have or know of children who depend on the Free lunch program provided by CMS schools, the list of pick up points follows. Chris tells me that the current plan is that lunches will be available from 11 am – 2 pm each day. If you have questions call or message Chris at The Loyalist for details.

North Charlotte: Heist Brewery and Barrel Arts, 1030 Woodward Avenue

Uptown Charlotte: Enderly Coffee, 2620 Tuckaseegee Rd

Southend: Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen, 4001 Yancey Road

East Charlotte: Alternative Chef, 3500 Latrobe Drive #300,

West Charlotte: Noble Smoke, 2216 Freedom Drive

South West Charlotte: Nothing But Noodles, 12740 S Tryon Street #100 (Steele Creek)

South Charlotte: True Crafted Pizza, 7828 Rea Road F, Nothing But Noodles, 7930 Rea Road, 28277 (Stonecrest)

Matthews/Union County: The Loyalist Market, 435 N Trade Street, Matthews

More than Seafood, Saltwater Markets offers a Boatload of Extra Love.

Last week, Clint and Elizabeth owners of Saltwater Markets in Clover, SC and Gastonia, NC were afraid as news and spread of COVID-19 became evident. Would they be ok, would their business be okay?

But then, as Clint shared with me in an early morning phone converstation, “We decided rather than be afraid, to take a position of leadership. To find a way to help make this easier for our community.”

Their inspiration? A long time customer offering $300 to pay for food for someone or several someones who couldn’t afford the luxury of stocking up. Clint and Elizabeth matched the donation and soon had other customers and community leaders doing the same. I would list them here, but Clint says 100%, they all have asked to remain anonymous.

“So far,” Clint continued, “we’ve had four donors and 4 families in need we’ve been able to help.” And over and above that, we’ve had four other customers who have offered delivery to folks who can’t get out on their own.

“If people need a helping hand, we don’t want them to be afraid to ask.”

To that end, if you’d like to help with a donation or if you need help with some support, Clint asks that you DM him on Facebook. Here is the link.

Saltwater Markets regularly specializes in seafood and beef, but on Monday March 16, they used the day to stock up, adding to their regular inventory to help customers with most requested needs.

They open for business again in both locations on Tuesday March 17. This week, in addition to the variety of seafood and beef, look for staples such as toilet paper and few household goods. There will also be more chicken options and a variety of breakfast and dinner sausage in the case; as well as an assortment of pre-prepared and ready to cook, dinner entrees. Saltwater also regularly offers a daily to-go lunch special from 11 am – 2 pm.

Wash Your Hands and Sing Happy Birthday Twice

Food and restaurants aside, just a few facts to share about staying safe and hopefully virus free. The first and most important one you already know, but it bears repeating over and over.

Wash Your Hands. At. Every. Turn.

As you move from place to place or person to person. Wash your hands with soap and water. Work up a lather and wash both sides of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails.

Wash you hands for 20 seconds – about the same time it takes you to sing Happy Birthday twice or a couple of chorus’ of Mary Had A Little Lamb.

If you want to mix it up a bit you could also sing the first verse of The Macerena, if you know all the words; but you won’t be able to do all the motions until after hand washing is done.

If you aren’t near soap and water, hand sanitizer is a good temporary substitute. But all the experts say soap and water is the best way to go.

Use disinfectant wipes to clean surfaces that get touched often. This includes but is not limited to anything other people touch as well -think doorknobs, hand rails, car steering wheels, television remotes, cell phones, computer keyboards, faucet handles, refrigerator and freezer doors and more. If you are out and about and touch any of these items during the course of the day, remember to wash your hands after contact.

If you have to cough or sneeze, always cover your nose and mouth – even if you are all by yourself. And then, Wash Your Hands.

Also, think about your shoes. Experts say that the coronavirus can live on some surfaces for up to 3 days. If you’ve walked through a highly trafficked area, take your shoes off before you enter your home and simply wipe the bottoms off with a disinfectant cloth or wipe. It’s a good precaution and it gives you a chance to wiggle your toes.

Stay safe and be well

And stay tuned. More to come from restaurant news to recipes and everything in between.

Meanwhile, if you know of a restaurant offering take out or pick up or some other form of meals to go, let me know in the comment section here. I am more than happy to share.

One comment

  1. Heirloom Restaurant has partnered with Chef Patrick Presents catering for their Take and Bake Program for pick up or local delivery. Reasonably priced, well balanced meals for 2,4,6,8 people.
    Heirloom Restaurant is also offering reduced price for purchasing gift cards for later use with a dine in experience.

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