With dining establishments around the world temporarily closed thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the world's best restaurants has transformed into a commissary kitchen.

Chefs wearing masks and preparing food in a kitchen
Eleven Madison Park has transformed into a commissary kitchen © Rethink

Eleven Madison Park is situated on Madison Square Park in New York. It has three Michelin stars and took home the top honour at the 2017 World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards. Having closed when the pandemic struck, it now aims to produce thousands of meals per day for front-line workers and those deeply affected by the current crisis.

The dining room at Eleven Madison Park pre COVID-19
The dining room as it was previously at Eleven Madison Park © Gary He, courtesy of Eleven Madison Park

Its owner, Daniel Humm, recently announced that the restaurant is using its kitchen and resources to provide meals, in conjunction with Rethink Food NYC who have partnered with American Express to fund the initiative. Rethink is a non-profit organization that transforms nutritious excess food from grocery stores, restaurants, events and corporate offices to provide low or no-cost meals to New York City families in need.

Chefs standing at tables in the dining room of a restaurant
The Eleven Madison Park team have transformed the way they work © Rethink

Rethink has turned its operations into an emergency food response initiative. It gives select restaurants financial relief to support their staffs’ livelihoods, in exchange for being a distribution touchpoint for Rethink to serve impacted communities. In addition to the primary goal of getting meals safely to those who need them, the program also benefits restaurants faced with closure, helping to bolster their bottom line and endure the prolonged closure.

Chefs making up food parcels in a kitchen
Chefs from Eleven Madison Park are making meals for those on the front lines © Rethink

At present, 12 chefs from Eleven Madison Park are making meals for those on the front lines of the pandemic and those who would usually rely on food banks, many of which are presently closed at present. At full capacity, they expect to be able to produce over 2000 meals per day.

“The most important thing any of us can do is find ways to support the healthcare workers on the front lines of this battle and those struggling to survive it," says Daniel Humm. "We’re grateful that this partnership will allow the Eleven Madison Park team to contribute in such a significant way. This is obviously an extraordinarily difficult moment for New York, and this program has given our team the chance to not only help people but to do what they love: cook.”

A gloved hand putting food in boxes
The Rethink program also benefits restaurants faced with closure © Rethink

For further information on Rethink, please see here.

Keep up to date with Lonely Planet's latest travel-related COVID-19 news here.

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