Sections

Reservations not required: Co-owner of buzzy W’burg eatery Lilia builds kitchen for do-gooders feeding needy

Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Don’t miss our updates:

Photo gallery

1/4
Blessed: Williamsburg’s Our Lady of Mount Carmel Monsignor Jamie Gigantiello, who dedicated the space, blessed the new kitchen with holy water.
2/4
Helping hands: Volunteers with North Brooklyn Angels served food to locals in need.
3/4
What an angel!: The executive director of North Brooklyn Angels, Ryan Kuonen, in front of the mobile soup kitchen known as “The Angelmobile.”
4/4
No reservations needed: Restaurateur Josh Cohen built the new kitchen.

Everyone has a seat at this table.

The co-owner of a Williamsburg restaurant where foodies can wait weeks to snag a reservation teamed up with a do-good group to open a different kind of kitchen that cooks up hot meals for some of Brooklyn’s most vulnerable.

“They asked me to purchase the equipment and set up the food purveyors, like setting up a small restaurant and kitchen,” said restaurateur Josh Cohen, a proprietor of Lilia at 567 Union Ave. “I do most of the cooking, and we have a bunch of volunteers.”

Cohen — whose eatery’s Italian cuisine earned its chef back-to-back nominations for prestigious James Beard Awards this and last year — worked with members of the North Brooklyn Angels to build the kitchen inside N. Eighth Street’s Our Lady of Mount Carmel church.

The space is a new home base for the good Samaritans to prepare the food they dole out to those in need via their mobile food truck the “Angelmobile,” which started cruising local streets on weekdays back in 2017, according to Angels co-founder Neil Sheehan, who said the group sourced its meals from a Bedford-Stuyvesant soup kitchen before it built its own cooking space.

And the free cuisine the Angels serve is far from your run-of-the-mill bagged lunch — volunteers whip up flavorful plates such as chicken curry over rice and lentils that all come with a side of leafy greens, Cohen said.

But the community-oriented chefs also plan their menus based on customer feedback, according to the restaurateur, who also owns a stake in another North Brooklyn eatery, Greenpoint’s Anella and Chez Ma Tante on Calyer Street.

“We try different dishes each week to see what the guests are responding to,” he said.

Cohen joined Our Lady of Mount Carmel clergy and do-gooders from the Angels to debut the kitchen at an April 29 ribbon-cutting ceremony, where church leader Monsignor Jamie Gigantiello blessed the space with holy water before its volunteer cooks hit the stoves, according to Sheehan, who said the facility furthers his group’s mission to lend a hand to those in need.

“Our focus is on involving neighbors in volunteer work that helps those who are struggling in our own communities,” Sheehan said. “There needs to be a bridge between new folks moving into the community and folks who have been around a long time and are economically challenged.”

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 5:45 pm, July 9, 2018
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

Teresa Toro from Greenpoint says:
Who cares. I want all these new people out of the neighborhood.
May 4, 3:53 pm
Leah from Park Slope says:
Can anyone come for the free food, or is it only for dirty people?
May 5, 6:35 pm

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

MetroPlus Roosevelt Savings Bank Coney Island Hospital Brookdale VillageCareMax

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter:

Optional: