Zinc Cafe Regional Chef Martin Hernandez Feeds Families in Need

PC: Don Leach, L.A. Times

Zinc Cafe may be closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, but that didn’t stop Chef Martin Hernandez from cooking. Since mid-April, Hernandez and a dedicated group of volunteers— mainly relatives and members of the restaurant community— have provided fresh meals for 135 families each week. Their story was recently featured in the L.A. Times.

Chef Hernandez prepares food in his home kitchen

Back in March, COVID-19 hit close to home when Martinez and his wife contracted the virus. They relied on the kindness of their family to prepare meals and help with their three small kids while they were in isolation. About the same time, like many business owners, Zinc Cafe owner John Secretan made the hard decision to shutter all Zinc locations. Martinez knew that the loss of employment across industries would severely affect families throughout Orange County. Once he recovered, he decided to help in the best way he knew how; he decided to cook.

Martinez and his wife, Alix Wiesen-Todd, set up a Facebook page, Family Meals OC, with a link to a Google sign-up sheet, offering meals each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The need was real— 30 families signed up instantly.

Zinc Cafe has locations in Laguna Beach, Corona Del Mar and L.A. They are know for incredible food, including outstanding desserts

Secretan stepped in to help by donating to a GoFundMe page and sharing the page on Zinc’s social media channels to bolster donations to feed more families. Subsequently, donations poured in from the Zinc Cafe community, and Hernandez went from cooking meals for 30 families to cooking for 135 families. It’s not just food they provide. One mother was grateful to find diapers and wipes for her baby as well. Volunteers have even gone so far as to deliver meals to families who are unable to pick up food from the meeting spot in Carrington Park in Laguna Hills.

During this stressful time, the restaurant community has shown a lot of heart. Zinc Cafe has been an Ocean Friendly Restaurant since 2019. We couldn’t be more grateful for their commitment to the environment and the communities they serve. Join Zinc Cafe Laguna Beach this Friday, May 15, as they reopen for take-out.