Blackbird Doughnuts recently donated a day’s worth of proceeds to help food and water insecure people in Austin, Texas who have been affected by the winter storm that continues to wreak havoc in the state. Millions of Texans were without power during the storm’s peak, and some 12 million were under boil water notices. Frigid temperatures and snowy, icy conditions interrupted the food supply chain in the state, forcing many grocery stores and restaurants to close. As a result, many people in the state have been without heat, clean drinking water, and access to food.
So when Blackbird owner Rebecca Roth Gullo heard that her friend Jake Kalick, who co-owns Austin-based cookware company Made In, was launching a relief effort, she reached out and asked how she could help.
“I have been reading and seeing all the devastation in Texas, and I knew his company would be connected to the food world [in Austin] and could be boots on the ground,” Roth Gullo said via text. “It’s just awful what’s happening there, and I knew we needed to do what we could.”
Kalick, who founded Made In with his business partner (and childhood best friend) Chip Malt in Boston in 2017, grew up in the North End. His family business, Harbour Food Service Equipment (which also made a generous donation to the relief effort), supplies commercial kitchens in New England with equipment. It’s through that family business that Kalick and Roth Gullo — who used the supplier to outfit the kitchens in her restaurants — met and became friends.
When it became apparent that the storm was going make it difficult for many Austinites to gain access to food, Kalick and Made In decided to launch an aid effort. They partnered with a number of independent restaurants that still had power, clean water, and gas, and began to sponsor meals. From there, restaurant partners — which include Hestia, Nixta Taqueria, Golden Tiger, among others — could offer free meals to anyone who needed one.
“There is such a tight-knit culinary circle in Austin,” Kalick said. “Our chef partners were jumping into gear immediately when they heard our plan ... It’s absolutely awful what’s been going on in Texas. When you’re from New England, you hear ‘snow storm’ and you think power outages or having to stay at home, but you don’t associate it with a disaster. But it’s totally different when you don’t have the infrastructure set up to deal with it.”
Kalick said it’s been extraordinary to witness his hometown show up to help out in his new home.
“Rebecca reached out to check in, and I gave her the rundown,” he said. “Unprovoked, she was like, ‘Welp, I’m making a donation from the restaurant group.’ Five minutes later, it was in our inbox. I can’t thank her enough.”
• How to Help Feed People In Need During Austin’s Winter Weather Crisis [EAUS]
• Live Updates: Power Comes Back in Texas, but Water Systems Are Crippled [NYT]
• Live Updates: Texans Face Drinking Water Shortage as Power Grid Operators Say System Is Back to Normal [CBS]
• Texas Agriculture Commissioner Issues ‘Red Alert’ for Food Supply Chain [KHOU]
• The Industry that Helped Make Made In a Success Is Now in Dire Straits. So They’re Cooking Up Ways to Help. [BG]