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Pop-up Chefs Try to Make a Difference for Those in Need During the Coronavirus Crisis

Midnight Mecca’s Tarik Abdullah helps serve free food, and Guerilla Pizza Kitchen is serving pies for charity

A photo of chef Tarik Abdullah, working in the kitchen at Soulful Dishes, wearing a “Feed the People” apron.
Chef Tarik Abdullah is pitching in at Soulful Dishes in Central District, serving free meals.
Tarik Abdullah/Instagram

As the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be felt acutely in Seattle, many chefs around the city are trying to do their part to help out. And that includes pop-up specialists.

Chef Tarik Abdullah — who runs the Midnight Mecca pop-up and has been making community-driven events a big part of his work for years — is helping a Central District restaurant with its new charitable effort. Like Musang in Beacon Hill, Soulful Dishes has become a community kitchen, with Abdullah, Soulful Dishes owner Jimaine Miller, and other local chefs on hand to offer free meals for those in need. Miller, also known as “The Def Chef,” has been a longtime advocate for food and social justice, so this transition seems to be a natural fit. They are accepting both cash and food donations (Abdullah’s Instagram has the details).

Meanwhile, chef Cam Hanin of the buzzy pop-up Guerilla Pizza Kitchen is also chipping in, offering his fermented pies out of his own driveway in Ballard. The cost is “pay what you will,” as he billed it, with 80 percent of proceeds going to Ballard Food Bank and a GoFundMe campaign that aims to help restaurant workers economically impacted by coronavirus measures. The other 20 percent will go to operating costs, since Hanin will try to continue the makeshift service every Friday for as long as he can.

“We’ve raised about $1,600 so far, with more coming in,” Hanin tells Eater Seattle, adding that Melissa Miranda from Musang donated tomatoes, Fremont Italian restaurant In Bocca al Lupo gave him olive oil, and catering service Golas Kitchen provided takeout containers and extra sanitation supplies. “We have a lot of people picking up food to deliver to friends in their neighborhoods who have lost jobs. It’s pretty overwhelming to see.”