The Courage to Try: Cooking at Age 11, Conquering Hunger

Interview by Billy Shore

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

How do we ensure dignity for people experiencing food insecurity? City Harvest Senior Director of Programs Kate MacKenzie and Gem chef Flynn McGarry sit down with Billy Shore in New York City to discuss how their passion for food drives their commitment to creating social change. “Through City Harvest, I’m able to work on making large-scale change, while also making sure people have food on their tables tonight,” says MacKenzie. A prodigy chef and restaurateur since age 11, McGarry understands the power of his celebrity to influence. “We’re going to do the restaurant, but in tandem we need to give back and try to be bigger than the space we’re confined in,” he explains. “

Both guests are passionate about solving food insecurity. “It’s not just about distributing more and more food to people who need it… it’s making sure it gets into their stomachs in a way that’s appropriate and desirable for them,” says MacKenzie about how City Harvest will help feed 1.2M food insecure New Yorkers this year. “Cooking for yourself is such an important skill. I know so many people in their 20s and 30s who don’t know how to make themselves dinner, which relates to this dependency on fast food,” says McGarry.

Share in this conversation that highlights how a passion for food motivates these guests to make an impact.

Resources and Mentions:

Kate MacKenzie

Senior Director of Programs for City Harvest in New York City. Throughout her 11 years with the organization, MacKenzie has helped establish City Harvest as a respected voice and influencer in food policy through cultivating and maintaining high-level relationships with elected officials, government offices, and community organizations, philanthropy and media as well as creating message frameworks that go beyond food to address income disparity and equity. MacKenzie earned an MS and RD in Public Health Nutrition from Cornell University.

Flynn McGarry

An American chef based in New York City. As a child prodigy, he began hosting the dinner tasting restaurant Eureka in Los Angeles and New York City when he was 11. He has staged at the some of the best restaurants in the U.S., including 11 Madison Park in New York City and Alinea in Chicago. McGarry opened his first permanent restaurant, Gem, in New York at age 19. In 2018, a documentary film about McGarry, entitled Chef Flynn, premiered at SXSW.

No Kid Hungry

Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign is ending child hunger in America by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need, every day.

City Harvest

Exists to end hunger in communities throughout New York City. We do this through food rescue and distribution, education, and other practical, innovative solutions. It helped start the food rescue movement in 1982 when a group of New Yorkers saw that New York City had an abundance of excess food even while a large number of its residents struggled to feed themselves and their families. They recognized the practical purpose that this surplus food could serve if directed to New Yorkers who needed it. Today, City Harvest is New York City’s largest food rescue organization, helping to feed the more than 1.2 million New Yorkers who are struggling to put meals on their tables. They will rescue 61 million pounds of food this year and deliver it, free of charge, to hundreds of food pantries, soup kitchens and other community partners across the five boroughs. Their programs help food-insecure New Yorkers access nutritious food that fits their needs and desires; increase our partners’ capacity; and strengthen the local food system, building a path to a food-secure future for all New Yorkers.

Gem

The first restaurant from chef Flynn McGarry. Described as modern American cuisine, Gem serves a 12-15 course menu to a dining room of 12 guests over a period of 2 hours. The meal is broken into a few parts consisting of small bites, composed plates, and a few family style dishes. The format of the meal is similar to that of a dinner party, much like the ones McGarry started throwing when he was 13 years old out of his mother’s home.

Recent Podcasts


Wednesday, September 21, 2022
Wednesday, September 07, 2022