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Feeding a Crowd - Local Chef Gives Back

Even for experienced chefs, feeding 300 people is a challenge.

Especially when you don’t know what’s going to be on the menu until you hit the kitchen.

That’s why the first HVEats Heroes are Chef Mark Margiotta of Brasserie 292 and his brother, and sous chef, Jesse.

On May 3Oth they have generously offered to take over take over the kitchen for the Lunch Box at Dutchess Outreach allowing the staff to attend a day-long conference and retreat.

If you’re not familiar with it, Dutchess Outreach provides a variety of hunger and relief services to those in need in Dutchess County. Every day the Lunch Box, the largest soup kitchen in New York State, serves over 300 meals for those facing food insecurities.

With a total of only four full and part time employees at the Lunch Box, they rely heavily on volunteers, two of which are Mark and Jesse. “They have both spent many hours volunteering at the Lunch Box and have helped us out in numerous jams, when they are short-staffed or get a big delivery”, says Lunch Box Director Margot Schulman.

In the beginning, they were, shall we say, “volunteered” to working at the Lunch Box but it was this stint of community service that got them hooked on cooking and giving back to the community. The more they went, the more fun it became. “It just feels good to help. The people who work at the Lunch Box, staff and volunteers are great to be with, which makes doing our job fun.”

Cooking at the Lunch Box is no easy feat. Think of it as being a daily version of Chopped where you never know what ingredients you’ll be cooking with. Since most of the food is donated, putting together well-rounded, healthy meals takes a lot of creativity working with whatever ingredients are available.

Jesse says “I remember the first time I worked at the Lunch Box they got heirloom tomatoes from a farm. There were so many I sat there for 3 or 4 hours just chopping tomatoes and by the time I was done the white shirt I had worn was completely red!”

The patrons of the Lunch Box will be in good hands. Mark, the oldest brother, is a CIA grad and the chef at Brasserie 292. His brother Jesse is about 5 years younger and works with Mark as his sous chef. Even though they’re currently cooking traditional French fare at Brasserie 292, they come from an Italian restaurant family. Their grandparents have owned Paradise Restaurant in Verplank for 70 years so of course, Mark and Jesse learned all the jobs, starting at the bottom as a dishwashers.

Even though they work 58 hour weeks, the brothers still make the time to help out at the Lunch Box, whenever they’re needed and that’s why they’re our first HVEats Heroes.

Thank you to Mark and Jesse!

To learn more about Dutchess Outreach and the Lunch Box and how you can help out- click here

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