British-Moroccan chef gives free gourmet meals to key workers, homeless amid coronavirus

1 / 6
British-Moroccan chef and entrepreneur Khalid Dahbi distributes meals to front line workers. (Supplied)
2 / 6
Front line workers receive Khalid Dahbi’s meals. (Supplied)
3 / 6
British-Moroccan chef and entrepreneur Khalid Dahbi prepares meals for front line workers and the homeless. (Supplied)
4 / 6
British-Moroccan chef and entrepreneur Khalid Dahbi distributes meals to front line workers. (Supplied)
5 / 6
British-Moroccan chef and entrepreneur Khalid Dahbi prepares meals for front line workers and the homeless. (Supplied)
6 / 6
British-Moroccan chef and entrepreneur Khalid Dahbi prepares meals for front line workers and the homeless. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 03 April 2020

British-Moroccan chef gives free gourmet meals to key workers, homeless amid coronavirus

  • Dahbi says he and his team are “keen to deliver” and distribute meals where they are needed
  • The British-Moroccan chef and entrepreneur said he is preparing the meals solely to help others and has always “loved giving back”

LONDON: A British-Moroccan chef and entrepreneur is bringing a smile to dozens of key workers and homeless people in England during the coronavirus lockdown by cooking and distributing 150 restaurant-style meals every day.

Khalid Dahbi, 39, the executive resident chef at British concierge company Quintessentially, said he is keeping his kitchen open during the coronavirus outbreak to provide nutritious food to frontline workers as a way of giving back to society.

“For me, it’s another way of having fun,” Dahbi told Arab News. “Amid the darkness of the coronavirus pandemic, if I can make people smile through my food, then I’ve succeeded.”

He said his meals are gourmet standard, and he has been serving dishes such as risotto with truffles, grilled supreme of free-range chicken with risotto primavera, smoked salmon sandwiches, and risotto primavera with grilled chicken and salsa.

“The meals aren’t served hot, but we ask recipients of the meals to heat them up,” Dahbi said. “They’re served in packaging that’s suitable for ovens and microwaves, so they just need to warm the food up and they have a restaurant-style meal.”

The British government has introduced a lockdown and social-distancing measures to slow the spread of coronavirus in the country.

The measures include restaurant closures, which make it difficult for key workers such as nurses and police officers, who have stretched schedules and work round the clock, to obtain food.

“There are a lot of people in London who don’t have access to hot food, and with everything closed, I’m taking the opportunity to cook some gourmet meals for nurses and other key workers, Dahbi said, adding that he and his team are “keen to deliver” and distribute meals wherever they are needed.

“A few friends of mine who work for the NHS (National Health Service) recently called me and told me that nurses have very little options for food and that they can only buy cold sandwiches at the hospital cafeteria,” he said.

“So we cooked some food and put it into our vans and took it over to London Bridge Hospital, where a member of staff made sure that around 30-40 nurses had a nice hot meal.”

Dahbi said he is preparing the meals solely to help others and has always “loved giving back.”

He added: “I’m giving to the areas where there’s a real necessity. Yesterday I went to Charing Cross Police Station. The police don’t have access to hot food. We walked into the police station and were welcomed with open arms. They accepted all the food we gave them and thanked us immensely because they needed it. There was nothing around. Even if you bring food from home, it’s not the same thing.”
Although 80 percent of the meals that Dahbi cooks are given to frontline workers, he has also distributed food to homeless shelters in Covent Garden, Camden and Marylebone.

“If I come across anybody on the streets on my way to these shelters, I’ll stop and open my boot and give them a meal,” he said.

Dahbi, who also owns a pizzeria and restaurant in Covent Garden, covers the costs of the meals that he and his team of five chefs make, as well as their wages. He said it is a way of keeping his team in employment during these difficult times.

“It’s my way of investing in my team and keeping them busy, because I don’t want to lose these people who’ve been with me for such a long time, so it’s a good way to get them involved, and of course they’re being paid as well,” he added.

Paying tribute to his team, he said: “I’m successful because of the people around me. Without them I’d be nothing. They stand by me on a daily basis, and for me to turn my back on them isn’t something I’d consider.”


Memorial service held for Floyd, officers in court

Updated 3 min 55 sec ago

Memorial service held for Floyd, officers in court

  • Al Sharpton: The width of the support and participation in the protests is something unlike we’ve ever seen before
  • Three of the four Minneapolis police officers who arrested Floyd on May 25 for allegedly passing a counterfeit bill were to make their first court appearance

MINNEAPOLIS: US civil rights activist Al Sharpton led a memorial service, in Minneapolis, for George Floyd, the African-American man whose harrowing videotaped death while being arrested has unleashed sweeping nationwide protests for racial justice.
“The width of the support and participation in the protests is something unlike we’ve ever seen before,” Sharpton said on MSNBC ahead of the 1:00 p.m. Central Time (1800 GMT) service. “This is the time that we can make real change.”
Three of the four Minneapolis police officers who arrested Floyd on May 25 for allegedly passing a counterfeit bill were to make their first court appearance, meanwhile, to face charges of aiding and abetting his murder.
The fourth policeman, white officer Derek Chauvin, who was filmed kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes as he said “I can’t breathe,” has been charged with second-degree murder and appeared before a judge last week.
Democratic Congressman John Lewis, who marched with Martin Luther King Jr to fight segregation, echoed Sharpton’s hope that Floyd’s death and the protests could pave the way for “greater change.”
“This feels and looks so different,” the 80-year-old civil rights icon told “CBS This Morning.” “It is so much more massive and all inclusive.”
Lewis, who was brutally beaten on several occasions during the 1960s civil rights protests, condemned President Donald Trump’s threat to use military force against demonstrators.
“I think it would be a serious mistake on the part of President Trump to use the military to stop orderly, peaceful, nonviolent protests,” Lewis said. “You cannot stop, cannot stop the call of history.”
While condemning Floyd’s death, Trump has adopted a tough stance toward the protesters, saying they include many “bad people” and calling on governors to “dominate the streets.”
Trump has raised the possibility of invoking the Insurrection Act to deploy active duty troops to quell the protests but his own defense secretary, Mark Esper, said Wednesday that should only be a “last resort.”
And Esper’s predecessor as Pentagon chief, former general James Mattis, broke his silence since resigning from the administration to deliver a biting assessment of the president.
Mattis called Trump “the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try.”
“Instead, he tries to divide us,” the decorated Marine Corps general said.
Trump snapped back on Twitter, calling Mattis “the world’s most overrated General.”

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

Another Democratic congressman, Adam Schiff, the chief prosecutor at Trump’s impeachment by the House of Representatives earlier this year, drew a parallel between the US protests and Thursday’s 31st anniversary of the Chinese crackdown on students in Tiananmen Square.
“While we pause to remember the innocent lives lost and demand that the Chinese government reckon with its state-sanctioned violence, we must acknowledge that America’s moral authority to denounce these crimes relies upon our setting an example here at home,” Schiff said.
“But when our police attack peaceful protesters fighting for a more just society with tear gas, rubber bullets, and flash bang grenades, we not only violate American values, but we also we lose our credibility when advocating for human rights and democratic freedoms abroad,” he said.
New barriers were being erected outside the White House on Thursday as the protests for racial justice and police reform entered a 10th day.
Police used batons and chemical agents to clear protesters from Lafayette Park in front of the White House on Monday and have since expanded the perimeter around 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Floyd’s death has reignited long-felt anger over police killings of African-Americans and unleashed a nationwide wave of civil unrest unlike any seen in the US since King’s 1968 assassination.
The arrest of all four officers involved in Floyd’s death has been a demand of the tens of thousands of protesters who have marched in the streets of dozens of US cities, often defying curfews.
Floyd’s family, in a statement thanking protesters, called the arrests and new charges a “bittersweet moment” — and a “significant step forward on the road to justice.”
They urged Americans to continue to “raise their voices for change in peaceful ways.”
Protesters staged large in cities from New York to Los Angeles on Wednesday.
Some of the protests were marred by rioting and looting in the early days but they have been mostly peaceful since then.
Los Angeles and Washington delayed the start of their curfews by several hours Wednesday after looting and violence had subsided the previous night, while Seattle scrapped its curfew with immediate effect.
Several arrests were made in New York after groups of protesters continued to march in Manhattan and Brooklyn after the city’s 8:00 p.m. curfew had passed.
A large group also protested at the US Capitol in Washington beyond curfew.
Thousands took to the streets in Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles, where Mayor Eric Garcetti vowed to redirect $250 million toward black community health and education from budgets including the police department.