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Asia Society Texas Heart concluded its flagship Bank of America Ladies’s Management Collection for 2019-2020 with a well timed webcast highlighting uplifting tales of ladies within the meals business responding to the coronavirus pandemic. The ultimate program adopted two sold-out in-person occasions within the sequence that includes conversations with former PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi and internationally-recognized journalist Ann Curry.
Through the webcast, PricewaterhouseCooper’s (PwC) Niloufar Molavi moderated an inspiring dialogue with the founder and president of Second Servings Barbara Bronstein, co-creator of Houston Shift Meal Cat Nguyen, and proprietor of Saigon Social restaurant and chef Helen Nguyen on the methods communities got here collectively in the course of the pandemic.
Molavi invited every speaker to share how they’ve responded in the course of the pandemic. Bronstein spoke about her nonprofit group Second Servings, which she mentioned is Houston’s solely meals rescue program targeted on redistributing cooked and ready meals to these in want. Earlier than COVID-19, the group rescued meals from greater than 150 distributors and companions, making every day deliveries without charge to 90 charity websites together with low-income housing, day facilities, soup kitchens, and extra. When the pandemic disrupted the meals chain, Second Servings all of a sudden discovered new meals companions in enterprise cafeterias, faculties, sports activities venues, and eating places that had been compelled to shut. With the partnership of longstanding donors and supporters, Bronstein mentioned Second Servings additionally discovered a possibility to create Houston’s largest mass meal reduction program, Dinner’s on Us, to distribute meal packing containers to these in want, together with many employees who had change into unemployed in the course of the pandemic.
Cat Nguyen, a Houston sommelier, spoke about her related mission to offer meals for hospitality employees who misplaced their jobs because of the coronavirus stay-at-home orders. She defined how Houston Shift Meal (HSM) was born of a partnership shaped after Hurricane Harvey in 2017, when she and co-founder Jonathan Beitler collaborated to funnel donations from the group to native eating places that might then rework extra meals and product into prepared meals for these in want. Throughout COVID-19, Cat Nguyen mentioned the objective of HSM is to assist those self same native eating places and employees who stepped up following Harvey — particularly since these employees are largely reliant on hourly wages or suggestions, with no security internet, she mentioned. She admitted it has been difficult in some respects because of the want for social distancing, resulting in a big drop in volunteers at distribution websites with most eating places working their very own distribution.
New York Metropolis-based chef Helen Nguyen shared the difficulties she confronted each financially and emotionally when she needed to delay the deliberate opening of her first restaurant, Saigon Social, resulting from pandemic-related restrictions. She revealed she needed to lay off her complete employees — one she had simply employed — and spoke on the gradual journey of opening the restaurant for take-out solely after which partnering with nonprofit organizations akin to Frontline Meals and Off Their Plate to feed important employees within the metropolis. The nonprofits offered Saigon Social with a funds to create homecooked meals, Helen Nguyen defined, and with time she was capable of convey the complete employees again on a brief foundation as her restaurant remodeled right into a group kitchen. She added that her work with the nonprofit Coronary heart of Dinner offers not solely produce and meals to senior facilities — the place many seniors are remoted or face mobility points — but in addition handwritten notes in varied languages to assist convey consolation and connection.
All three audio system mentioned the emotional challenges of coping with the nervousness and worry round COVID-19 and the financial fallout, however highlighted the generosity of the group coming collectively in response. Bronstein famous that Second Servings had 100 volunteers, lots of them new, aiding with every day supply routes, and added that beneficiant assist has enabled the Dinner’s on Us meal distribution program to develop from hospitality employees in Houston and Galveston to all Houstonians in want. Cat Nguyen mentioned that seeing a lot good work locally in addition to the gratitude individuals have proven when receiving a meal equipment or produce field function a fantastic reminder of why so many individuals joined the hospitality business within the first place.
In discussing plans for the longer term, Helen Nguyen mentioned she is going to take a 10-day break to evaluate the way forward for her restaurant, Saigon Social, and to rigorously take into account plans that might enable for continued work with the nonprofits whereas safely providing al fresco eating to the general public, per the steerage of New York Metropolis’s Section 2 reopening plans. In Texas, with rising numbers of COVID-19 instances and hospitalizations, each Bronstein and Cat Nguyen reaffirmed their dedication to proceed their providers via their respective organizations so long as wanted. “As long as there’s a need and as long as we have support, we will continue our work to support the community,” mentioned Cat Nguyen.
The audio system famous that the pandemic has been a studying expertise for every of them, with Bronstein highlighting the necessity to suppose creatively to resolve what can appear to be insurmountable issues. She mentioned it is very important be keen to take some dangers within the face of super uncertainty, as a result of it usually pays off — as was the case for not solely Second Servings but in addition Houston Shift Meal and Saigon Social’s partnerships. Cat Nguyen additionally emphasised the must be versatile and tenacious. She mentioned she’s discovered to by no means underestimate the guts of individuals: when individuals know there are others in want, she mentioned, there are at all times these keen to assist.
Helen Nguyen agreed, sharing two issues particularly that resonated for her throughout this expertise: the significance of checking up on pals, household, and neighbors and never being afraid to ask for assist, to achieve out to different individuals and organizations locally. “You’re never really alone,” she mentioned.
In regards to the Audio system
Barbara Bronstein is founder and president of Second Servings. Following a profitable profession advertising a few of America’s main manufacturers for Unilever, Mars, and Coca-Cola, Barbara based Second Servings to handle the staggering charges of meals insecurity and meals waste in Houston. Beneath her professional bono management, Second Servings, in simply 5 years, has change into one of many metropolis’s fastest-growing nonprofits, serving to to nourish over 170,000 Houstonians with top quality meals all yr lengthy via 90 native charities. When the Covid-19 disaster struck, Second Servings was on the frontline, rescuing invaluable perishable meals from disrupted accommodations, enterprise cafeterias, sports activities venues, eating places, and faculties. The necessity for meals was skyrocketing, so Second Servings sprang into motion, forming new collaborations and creating an adjunct program referred to as “Dinner’s On Us”, to offer 100,000 chef-prepared meals for Houstonians in want. Barbara has been featured in native and nationwide media, and honored with the Mayor’s Proud Companion Award, the Houston Humanitarian Award, and the Compassionate Motion Chief Award. She at the moment serves on the Board of the Houston Culinary Guild.
Cat Nguyen is a neighborhood sommelier who has curated a lot of award-winning wine packages for informal to tremendous eating eating places throughout Houston, Texas. To help with the COVID-19 effort, Cat used her community from working as a Vanguard consultant for Republic Nationwide Distributing Firm and her function with Houston Sommelier Affiliation to staff up with a pal and colleague, Jonathan Beitler, to create Houston Shift Meal (HSM).The mission of Houston Shift Meal is two-fold: 1) Present free meals to staff within the meals service and hospitality business who’ve been furloughed or laid off because of the COVID-19 disaster, and a couple of) Assist native eating places throughout this time by offering them with funds to assist subsidize the prices of getting ready these free meals and providing an extra promoting avenue to let the general public know they’re nonetheless open for enterprise. To this point, HSM has distributed over 20,000 meals to out of labor hospitality business employees and over $100,000 to restaurant companions.
Helen Nguyen was raised in Seattle with roots in California and Vietnam, and has at all times had a ardour for meals. After a decade in actual property enterprise and gross sales, she pursued her ardour and moved to New York and attended the Institute of Culinary Schooling. Whereas at college, she began an apprenticeship at L’Appart below Chef Nicolas Abello, who led his staff to their first Michelin star inside the first few months of opening after which labored her approach into the kitchen of Chef Daniel Boulud’s famed Restaurant Daniel. There she educated with the Feast and Fetes catering and personal occasions staff for three years. Although educated in basic French, Vietnamese consolation meals is the place her coronary heart resides. Helen has shared her love for meals, tradition and group through her month-to-month Pop-Ups. Her restaurant Saigon Social was slated to open in March this yr, however earlier than the restaurant may open, she needed to pivot to curbside and deliveries as soon as keep at house orders had been issued in New York Metropolis resulting from COVID-19. In her effort to present again to the group throughout this disaster, Helen has partnered with non-profits akin to Coronary heart of Dinner in offering cooked meals via her restaurant to weak group members particularly seniors. Coronary heart of Dinner is offering house cooked meals and groceries to Asian-centered nonprofit organizations in New York Metropolis just like the Chinese language-American Planning Council which runs 5 senior facilities in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn. She has additionally partnered with Frontline Meals and Off Their Plate to assist present meals to native hospitals and healthcare employees.
In regards to the Moderator
Niloufar Molavi leads PwC’s International and U.S. Vitality observe serving International power shoppers within the oil and gasoline business. She is answerable for all consumer providers – assurance, advisory, and tax. From 2011 to 2016, she served because the Larger Houston Market Managing Companion for the Larger Houston Market. From 2009 to 2011, she served on PwC’s management staff because the agency’s Chief Variety Officer. On this function, she oversaw the agency’s range technique, and all of its associated packages and initiatives. With 25 years of tax expertise with PwC, Niloufar has served a variety of power corporations each within the U.S. and overseas, advising shoppers on worldwide and U.S. tax structuring, mergers, acquisitions, and potential public choices. Niloufar earned her bachelor’s diploma in Accounting in addition to a grasp’s diploma in Skilled Accounting with a focus in Taxation from the College of Texas at Austin. She at the moment serves on the Advisory Board of the McCombs College of Enterprise and Accounting Advisory Council on the College of Texas. She serves because the Chair of the board of Costume for Success Houston and Awty Worldwide College. She additionally serves on the non-profit boards of the Alley Theatre, Central Houston, ALPFA, and the Larger Houston Partnership.
In regards to the Ladies’s Management Collection
The Ladies’s Management Collection (WLS) celebrates influential, numerous girls making a substantive impression in each the enterprise and tradition arenas, regionally and globally.
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About Asia Society at House
We’re devoted to persevering with our mission of constructing cross-cultural understanding and uplifting human connectivity. Utilizing digital instruments, we convey you content material for all ages and conversations that matter, as a way to spark curiosity about Asia and to foster empathy.
About Asia Society Texas Heart
With 13 areas all through the world, Asia Society is the main instructional group selling mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships among the many peoples, leaders, and establishments of Asia and West. Asia Society Texas Heart executes the worldwide mission with a neighborhood focus, enriching and fascinating the huge range of Houston via modern, related packages in arts and tradition, enterprise and coverage, training, and group outreach.