Laid-off chef starts nonprofit kitchen on Long Island

Ryan Carroll was laid off on March 17, 2020. By the 18th, he had come up with a plan.

“I was a chef in New York City and lost my job,” he said. “We sell food to the public in order to raise money to feed thousands of people.”

It started with a fresh chicken parm for his grandmother. And then the chef realized he could help others. He enlisted the help of newly unemployed hospitality workers like him. Together they formed Carroll’s Kitchen in Bellmore.

“I can’t really sit home,” Carroll said. “This was pretty much my best option and I love doing it. I love helping people.”

The nonprofit cooks and delivers well-balanced, nutritional meals across Long Island. People who can pay can order from the website. Half the proceeds go to local organizations that help Long Islanders.

The rest of the money is used to put chefs to work in his kitchen to continue the mission of helping people struggling with food insecurity due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’ve had over 100 chefs, 10 on staff,” Carroll said. “Money raised through donations — probably $100,000,” 

The nonprofit relies on donations and volunteers. It has fed over 33,000 people. Their goal is to hit 100,000 meals this year.

“Food insecurity is a huge issue on Long Island,” Carroll said. “We’re here to battle it and feed as many we possibly can with the resources we have.”

Alexandra Murray was also out of work. Now she volunteers her time.

“It’s really, really rewarding seeing the look on people’s faces when you give them food,” she said.

Carroll plans to continue cooking for the cause indefinitely.

“Once you start helping people it’s near impossible to stop,” he said. “I think this is where I’m going to go forward with my life.”