“We had been brainstorming different ways to make the restaurant part of the community and get staff engaged beyond making meals and pushing them out of the door,” says Matt Jozwiak, co-founder and chiefs executive officer of Rethink. “And then Daniel called me and was, like, ‘Let’s do a food truck.’
The handsome, royal blue, customized truck, emblazoned with the names Eleven Madison Truck and Rethink will serve around 400 meals a day for free. Operations will be paid for in large part by the restaurant’s diners; each Michelin three-star meal that’s sold guarantees five meals for Rethink. (EMP’s to-go boxes, whose $275-plus price tags have raised eyebrows, generate 10 meals per order.)
The truck will be staffed by EMP staff on a rotating basis. “For the kids who care hard about these issues, they will see it as a benefit,” says Humm. Likewise, the restaurant will prioritize sympathetic suppliers. “We’re going to ask them to give us some product for free for Rethink. We’ll select our suppliers based on that,” he adds.
But it won’t be serving an elite kitchen’s version of what they think people want to eat. “Those neighborhoods are not waiting for a bunch of white guys to show up in their hood and give out food,” says Humm.
“It will be a series of our greatest hits to start,” says pastry chef Laura Cronin, who has been a key part of Rethink’s meal production at the restaurant. “Chicken is, by far, the most popular protein.”
To begin with, the program will offer the kind of meals that EMP’s kitchen has been providing to first responders and soup kitchens throughout the pandemic, including jerk chicken with roasted vegetables, gumbo-style chicken etouffée with rice, and grain bowls, along with vegetarian and other dietary options.