TRAVERSE CITY — Myles Anton didn’t call first. He just showed up at the Goodwill Inn’s service entrance with an armful of fresh produce.
Broccoli, cauliflower, leeks, parsley.
“Then the next day,” said cook and driver Joe Gallagher, “he showed up again.”
Anton is a multi-year nominee for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef awards, a partner in Off the Map Hospitality Inc., and the chef at two local restaurants, Trattoria Stella and The Franklin.
Since mid-March, he has been reporting for kitchen duty and cooking for Meals on Wheels, Addiction Treatment Services, Phoenix House and for guests at the Goodwill Inn homeless shelter, according to the Traverse City Record-Eagle.
Christine Luce, Goodwill Industries of Northern Michigan food service manager, said the organization has contracts with those service providers and the Inn’s kitchen prepares 6,000 meals per week.
“We love having him here, he’s just like one of us now,” Luce said.
On Monday morning, Anton monitored the soup pots — split pea with ham, chili and cream of potato with sausage.
No one says, “Yes, Chef,” here. Anton is called by his first name, often takes direction from others, and expressed admiration for the staff’s resourcefulness and creativity.
“They do the same thing here everyday that I tried to do in the restaurants — use everything you have,” Anton said.
“Sometimes I would even order unusual things just to see what we could do with them. We placed those orders though — they do it here with whatever happens to come in.”
Goodwill Industries started Food Rescue of Northwest Michigan in 2010, which accepts donated food from local farms, restaurants and grocery stores.
The program has rescued more than 9 million pounds of fresh but soon-to-expire food and served it to hungry people via food banks and other social service providers.
Since Food Rescue is a Goodwill program, kitchen staff at the Inn get first choice of whatever is collected, Luce said.
Week to week, there’s no way to tell what that will be. Luce said they never turn donations away, not from Food Rescue or from local residents.
When Gallagher asked Anton to thaw 60 lbs. of chicken scraps Friday and figure out a way to use them, Anton planned chicken Bolognese, a tomato-based sauce for pasta with ground meat, tomatoes, carrots and herbs.
When Gallagher asked what Anton was going to do with an armload of fresh parsley, he said make a chimichurri (herb sauce or spread) salad.
“Of course I’m sad about restaurants being closed,” Anton said. “And I worry too about restaurant workers. But there are bright spots. I’ve gotten to meet all the people here.”