Phillip Frankland Lee, chef-owner at Scratch Bar in Encino and Gadarene Swine in Studio City (and current contestant on this season of Top Chef), wanted to do something unique to show gratitude for the back of house — a restaurant industry term for those who work behind the scenes: chefs, sous chefs, prep cooks, dishwashers, etc.
So last year, Lee implemented what he dubbed Back of House Appreciation Month (#BAM) at both his restaurants, offering free six-course tasting menus to those who worked in the industry, from head chefs down to dishwashers. As Lee told Munchies last month, the program was a smashing success, and this year he's decided to do it again.
For the entire month of February (except Valentine's Day weekend), Gaderene Swine and Scratch Bar will be offering free six-course meals to any back-of-house worker, from any restaurant, who brings in a recent paystub, along with a 50 percent discount for additional guests or additional courses. Alcohol will not be discounted.
"This is my way of giving back and hopefully strengthening my community," Lee said in an email.
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As the debate over inclusive tipping and wage parity between front of house (servers) and back of house (cooks) becomes an increasingly hot issue in L.A. and the nation, Lee is hoping to show support by offering a taste of his vegetable-centric cooking for those who might not always have the income to afford it.
"In light of all the recent BOH compensation debates," Lee said, "I have decided to take a different approach to the way BOH staff is treated/ compensated within the industry."
Scratch Bar and Kitchen, 16101 Ventura Blvd., Encino; (818) 646-6085, scratchrestaurants.com.
Gadarene Swine, 11266 Ventura Blvd., Studio City; (818) 508-5500, thegadareneswine.com.