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The Crowd: Event at South Coast Plaza boxes food for impacted restaurant workers.

MAY 13, 202011:38 AM
The trickle-down effects reaching all of society impacted by COVID-19 is a shocker to most. On the subject of the most basic form of life sustainment, feeding the hungry rises to the top of that impact.

We have seen the food lines, listened to the news reports and have been both horrified and ashamed by the statistics.

Did you even consider the plight of restaurant employees and so many workers associated jobs in the food services industry?

Costa Mesa, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica celebrity chef/restauranteur Elizabeth An and her extended family, all working together under the family moniker House of An, a four-generation concern, gathered their resources with the help of others, to produce an unusual event in these times of COVID-19.

SEAL BEACH, CA — FRIDAY, MAY 8, 2020: Empoyee Moy Ramirez, left, places flowers on display as Christina Dagle, right, and her daughter Eleanor Eades, 4, of Seal Beach, buy flowers for a friend from Devynn\’s Garden in Seal Beach, CA, on May 8, 2020. Some businesses are reopening under a relaxation of the state\’s stay at home order. Bookstores, music stores, toy stores, florists, sporting goods retailers, clothing stores and others can reopen for pickup and curbside service. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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The AnQi Pantry Box Giveaway exclusively for restaurant employees impacted by layoffs and furloughs unfolded April 17 at AnQi Restaurant at South Coast Plaza. Inspiration for the event came to An after receiving heartbreaking news that one of her star employees was forced to live in his car.

“I couldn’t let that pass without making a small effort to help those in our industry who have been so impacted by COVID-19,” said An, chief executive of House of An.

Working with AnQi executive chef Tony Nguyen, a team assembled 500 boxes filled with food and beverages including Nguyen’s inclusion of special ingredients and recipes for making not-so-regular meals, such as caramelized onion and beef tostadas, onion corn tortillas, with refried beans and beets, all offered in the food baskets with necessary ingredients to create the dish.

Then, the 500 food pantry boxes were given to restaurant workers in Orange County, including the cities of Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Santa Ana and Irvine.

On April 27, the distribution at South Coast Plaza began around noon as a crowd arrived to receive the boxes, which also were filled with fresh produce and pantry essentials.

An’s Costa Mesa experience was followed with similar giveaways at their restaurants in Beverly Hills (Crustacean) and Santa Monica (Tiato), helping more than another 1,000 restaurant workers.

Supporting the An gesture were generous partners, including donations from a GoFundMe campaign along with outreach from Bloggers Who Brunch.

Also front and center were Elizabeth Segerstrom, co-managing partner of South Coast Plaza. Chipping in were Melissa’s Produce, Kimino Foods, U.S. Foods, O.C. Baking Co. and Advanced Restaurant Supply.