“I have learned that hospitality far extends beyond the walls of a restaurant,” says Edward Lee, chef and owner of 610 Magnolia, a Louisville icon of modern Southern cuisine. Lee and Wine Director Lindsey Ofcacek are cofounders of The LEE Initiative, formed in 2018 to promote diversity and equality in the restaurant industry, and to address the needs of its professionals.
Spurred by the pandemic, the Initiative sought to address the intertwined needs of the industry. That included a program that funded restaurants to hire back workers and act as relief kitchens that fed over 1 million meals to needy communities, and one which bought products from small farms to donate to independent restaurants struggling with reopening.
“I feel like we always knew this, but the pandemic has shown us all that restaurants are truly important to people,” says Ofcacek.