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I was so excited when I was able to arrange an interview with Chef John Park (Toast Kitchen and Bakery, Costa Mesa) who will be on-site at LA Times’ The Taste Costa Mesa on Saturday, 19 October, at the PM session serving his own spicy version of chicken and biscuits with fried chicken, natural hot seasoning, a cheddar biscuit and spicy sauce. Sound good? Be sure to find them on-site on Saturday evening!
Here are 5 ways Chef John Park inspires with his awesome philanthropy:
#1. Only interested in setting up a restaurant in an area that needs them the most.
When asked whether Toast Kitchen & Bar tends to expand to another location, Chef John explained that they are more interested in targeting those areas where they can continue to give back as opposed to making money.
#2. Toast Kitchen & Bar Helps the Homeless and Veterans.
Chef John Park told OC Chef’s Table:
We believe that, as restaurant owners and chefs, we have a day-to-day opportunity to be there for people when everyone else has turned away. Beyond feeding them and providing nourishment, we should be the leader and create a welcome environment that opens the doors to vets and homeless adults and kids.
#3. Chef John Park provides 3-course Dinners for the Homeless Monthly.
With the support of local churches, Toast Kitchen & Bar put on 1-2 dinners for the homeless. The churches provide nice table settings and the restaurant provides the 3-course meal. It’s a nice sit-down dinner where they eat off real china and drink water out of real glasses.
The one comment we get a lot from these dinners is that ‘they feel human again’.
#4. Will Always Interview Everyone.
They don’t try to force a hiring process on themselves and their employees. However, they do have non-profits reaching out about potential employees and have an open-door policy. Not everyone is able to join the team for whatever reason but they’ve been good enough to hire former drug addicts, foster youth who’ve aged out of the system, former jail inmates, and veterans from dishwashers on up.
One of their employees is Clarence Williams.
Clarence came up to Chef John at one of the homeless dinners and asked if they were hiring. It just so happened they were looking for a dishwasher so they set up an interview for a few days later and he was lucky enough to get the job. Clarence has been with Toast Kitchen & Bakery in Costa Mesa for almost a year now and is fortunate enough to have a room he can rent and call ‘home’.
As Chef John said, “most of the time if you see someone on the street you don’t want to give them the time of day and make assumptions about them.” On the other hand, he’s been impressed with his restaurant family because “they’ve been really open and accepting – no judgment. Together we focus on great food.”
#5. Give 10% of their Profits to a Different Non-Profit Each Month.
You’ll notice on Toast Kitchen & Bakery’s Instagram that each month they feature a non-profit. These non-profits receive 10% off the restaurant’s monthly profits.
And what was even more impressive to me was how wonderfully modest Chef John was when I asked him about the restaurant’s giving back. He was much more interested in my sharing about the great people that make up the restaurant family such as Clarence.
Toast Kitchen & Bakery
Open for Breakfast, Lunch, Happy Hour (Tuesday-Friday), Taco Tuesdays, and Dinner (Tuesday-Saturday).
They are closed on Mondays.
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