This episode of On the Fly by tablehopper, our twentieth, is with Vinny Eng, a community organizer and founding member of SF New Deal, and a well-known figure in the hospitality industry for his previous twelve years of service at Bar Tartine, Tartine Bakery, and the Manufactory as a general manager and wine director. Anyone who knows Vinny, or is fortunate to work with him, or call him a friend, will always be struck by how heart-centered his approach to everything is.
Vinny sprung to action in looking out for immediate ways to help neighbors in need as soon as the state of emergency was issued, and has been an immeasurable help and force with SF New Deal and the people it serves with dignity, as well as the local restaurants it partners with, providing an important source of consistent revenue, especially when considering the shortcomings of a PPP program that excluded many and has been exhausted, and that further federal aid has stalled.
He looks at everything holistically, with awareness of the many touch points and nuances behind who grows our food, and prepares it, and serves it, how the very people who make food and eating possible often go unseen and are unsupported during this difficult time, and how we have access to food—or don’t, and how different communities eat, and what they need.
In our conversation, we talk about ways you can help show support—for our community, for our restaurants, and the hospitality industry as a whole, and it’s not just about directing resources to meet the needs of this moment, although that helps too. Foundational to his approach is that if we solve for those closest to harm, we solve this for all of us. I always leave a conversation with Vinny with more insight, and knowledge, and compassion than I had before, and I hope this episode helps bring expansion for you in some ways as well.
And there’s a fun moment at the end, when Vinny surprises me with a lightning round of questions about some of our favorite takeout and treats right now.
Ritu Indian Soul Food: ritusf.com, Tilak: tilaksf.com, Eat Salty Sweet: eatsaltysweet.com, Stonemill Matcha: stonemillmatcha.com, Miss Ollie’s Cookshop at Elda’s: eldasf.com/#MENU, Kantine: kantinesf.com, Nopa: nopasf.com.
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