Inside the Harlem Community Meals

A collaboration by Refettorio Harlem and Hot Bread Kitchen Chefs Collective


We usually say that behind every meal there is something more. But what does it really mean? This #BlackHistoryMonth we take you on a journey into the Refettorio Harlem community meals produced in collaboration with the Hot Bread Kitchen Chefs Collective.  During February we are excited to launch the Refettorio Harlem’s social media platform and to begin to amplify the voices of those passionate and talented food entrepreneurs whose products encompass and share the culinary diversity of the African and Latin X diaspora and the delicious dishes being prepared each week to support food assistance of Refettorio Harlem’s community partners.

We invite you to hear directly from chefs as they explore themes of Black culture, identity and share their stories of what food means for them, their families, and their communities.  


Every contribution delivers immediate impact into the Harlem community enabling the culinary entrepreneurship of the Hot Bread Kitchen Chefs Collective and Refettorio Harlem to prepare weekly 600 ethnically diverse and healthy meals to those more vulnerable. Your support puts a nourishing meal into those hands of those who need it most while building back small business recovery.  Since the Thanksgiving Holiday we have delivered 7800 meals.

"At Hot Bread Kitchen we know the path to economic mobility begins with security. This year has shown that when safety nets fall apart, community steps in. We are so grateful to join forces with Food for Soul's community of partners worldwide to nourish families and strengthen the launchpad for economic opportunity."

Shaolee Sen, CEO, Hot Bread Kitchen

Follow us at @refettorioharlem and our Chefs Collective friends, to see more about these talented Chefs over the next couple of weeks, sharing their culinary creativity with a special spotlight on our food recovery and community meal initiatives. In the “Southern” category you’ll find Chef Maryam of @maryamsyumyum‘s Mediterranean Soul food – mac and cheese, chicken, sweet potatoes, and green beans – @cheflexis‘ Geechee and Puerto Rican cuisine , and Chef Sandra of @black_eyed_peas_collard_greens‘ traditional Southern comfort food, while in the “Caribbean” category you’ll find Chef Cornel of @cornelscatering‘s vegetable-forward Caribbean food.



Refettorio Harlem Community Meal partner Hot Bread Kitchen is a nonprofit organization that creates economic opportunity and mobility for women, immigrants and people of color in New York City, using the vibrant potential of the food industry as a pathway forward. They seek to advance a vision of a food industry that is diverse and equitable, with heightened urgency to support graduates with small business recovery as they work to reimagine businesses during the pandemic. At the heart of Refettorio Harlem is collaboration, creating a strong social safety net with mission aligned organizations to achieve food security and livelihood.

The Hot Bread Kitchen’s Chefs Collective group of small business owners are a talented group of social entrepreneurs who value the opportunity that can arise when we come together to nurture the needs of all.

Chefs Collective members are Harlem-based Minority- and Women-owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs) who make a diverse variety of food. This collaboration gives the Hot Bread Kitchen Chefs Collective an opportunity to support their professional livelihood while nurturing food assistance for individuals, families through their passion for food and culture. Throughout the month Hot Bread Kitchen is promoting a series of cooking classes which directly support Black entrepreneurs and owners who have grown their food businesses at Hot Bread Kitchen. While the pandemic continues to affect the economic stability and food sufficiency for over 1.5 million New Yorkers with families and children, as part of the community meals initiative Hot Bread Kitchen’s Chefs Collective partnership with Refettorio Harlem is bringing tremendous volume, ensuring the preparation of 600 meals each week that are then coordinated for distribution outside the Refettorio to to over six different community organizations across Harlem.  Refettorio Harlem community partners play an essential role in helping to define the food assistance need and collaboratively ensure meals are provided in a dignified and responsible effort with COVID19 precautionary measures.