For so many people currently experiencing hunger, flavor isn’t as important as being able to eat literally anything at all. That’s why chef Gaurav Anand, of New York City’s aRoqa, will return for the second year to feed New Yorkers living with homelessness who get their meals from St. John’s Bread and Life, Brooklyn on Wednesday, June 27.
As a child growing up in India, Anand had parents who organized similar events for local homeless and low-income families multiple times a year, which is why he “always knew that if he ever had the reigns to cook for other people, he would give back to those who can't afford to eat at any of his restaurants.”
Anand first got involved with A Slice of Hope in 2016, teaming up with founder Obaid Kadwani to help the nonprofit create moments of joy centered around food in homeless shelters. However, instead of the typical pizza and music, the two will return this year prepare over 600 plates of butter chicken and other traditional Indian dishes at St. John’s Brooklyn.
Last year, he and his team started cooking at the shelter's kitchen at 6 a.m., and by no time, word spread so far that instead of the anticipated 600 guests, they had served — successfully, somehow —close to a 1,000 people.
“I’ve fed thousands of people in the span of my career, including folks who may or may not appreciate the amount of work that goes into putting a perfect meal on the table” he told The Daily Meal. “But the gift of food to the hungry is the noblest of all causes, and there is no greater joy than seeing their smiles.”
For his part, Anand has come a long way since arriving in New York with a suitcase in each hand. He’s created sold-out dinners at the prestigious James Beard House and earned praise from various critics for having some of the best Indian restaurants in the city, including Bhatti Indian Grill, Moti Mahal Delux, and Awadh.