Chef Brings Gourmet Food to Homeless

Rising culinary star left posh restaurant for rescue mission
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 18, 2009 12:40 PM CDT
Tim Hammack left a renowned French bistro to cook at a California rescue mission.   (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

(Newser) – At California’s Bay Area Rescue Mission, the homeless dine on grilled artichokes with garlic sherry vinaigrette or vegetable soup with creme fraiche, thanks to the culinary talents of Tim Hammack. The chef left a renowned French bistro to cook at the rescue mission. “I was cooking for very wealthy people and people of means,” he tells NPR. “But I just had a passion for people who didn’t have means.”

Hammack’s career was just taking off when he decided to try a new route, telling the rescue mission he’d work there one year—that was eight years ago. His kitchen feeds up to 1,200 a day, and he enjoys introducing the people he calls his “customers” to new foods: “Their eyes open up and they say, ‘Wow, this is something special,’” he says. “That really gives me a thrill.”