Last Saturday, in a half-hidden, newly rented kitchen at the end of Charles Court, off Newbridge Road in Bellmore, a small group of chefs was busily preparing food. The next day, they distributed roughly 3,000 meals to families throughout the area.
It was the first day after Ryan Carroll officially established the location as the new outlet for Carroll’s Kitchen, a nonprofit organization that he started in Blue Point, near his hometown of Sayville, in Suffolk County. Carroll began the initiative in March and has since helped feed tens of thousands of people across Long Island.
Sunday’s batch of donations marked 33,000 meals donated by Carroll’s Kitchen since it started.
“It’s a monster of a kitchen,” Carroll said of the new location. “We’ve been working with two stoves in this small kitchen in Blue Point, but this kitchen in Bellmore is amazing — it’s exactly what we needed.” The kitchen has seven ovens, additional stoves and extra countertop space, which will help Carroll’s team prepare even more food than before, he said.
Many of the volunteers, including Carroll, are chefs who lost their jobs over the past nine months when restaurants shuttered during the coronavirus pandemic. Several are friends Carroll has made throughout his life and career, such as Alex Murray, whom he met while attending the Culinary Institute of America in update Hyde Park.
On Saturday, Murray prepared pie crusts that would later be filled and baked. “I thought Covid would go away,” she said with a laugh, “but I realized that’s not going to happen.”
Murray’s previous role as a sous chef for The Modern, housed inside the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, made her lose touch with cooking for those less fortunate, she said. “I lost track of doing community service,” she said. “My job took over my life in a way, so it’s my first time back at this in a while.”
Samantha Faicco, who prepped food across from Murray, shifted to working as a sous chef for a private chef after her restaurant job fell through. “With cooking, it’s a passion,” she said. “It’s rewarding.”
Cole Dinkelman, who spent the afternoon slicing carrots, has been a friend of Carroll’s since they were 14. Dinkelman was working in Seattle before he lost his job and moved back home to Sayville to find work and volunteer for Carroll’s Kitchen.
The goal of Carroll’s Kitchen is to provide elderly residents and families in need with free, delivered meals. Families or people with elderly neighbors can text Carroll the recipient’s address at (631) 206-4235.
Carroll’s Kitchen also offers a full menu for those interested in purchasing dishes, the proceeds of which help fund the donation efforts. “Carroll’s Cocktails” is a new addition to the offerings, allowing families to order mixed drinks with their meals.