Thing 18: Baked Goods from Paola Velez

We can’t even begin to know what the full impact of the coronavirus pandemic will be on local and independent restaurants, but we know it will be bad. Tens of thousands of places have closed already and millions of restaurant workers have been laid off or had their hours/pay reduced. But despite all the many stresses that come with all that, some restaurant workers, chefs, and owners have found additional projects and causes to champion. Projects like Chefs for America, Brigaid 101, and Bakers Against Racism provided meals, education, donations, and awareness to issues faced by all of our communities.

A 2020 James Beard Award finalist for Rising Star Chef, Paola Velez is a co-founder of Bakers Against Racism, and executive pastry chef at Maydan and Compass Rose (formerly at Kith/Kin). From her Washingtonian Magazine “Heroes of the Crisis” profile:

It all started small: In May, Velez raised $1,100 at a pop-up doughnut shop benefiting the DC immigrant organization Ayuda. That modest idea—making desserts as a way to combat racial injustice—grew into Bakers Against Racism, the collective she founded with chefs Willa Pelini and Rob Rubba. A global virtual bake sale they organized for five days in June raised $1.9 million for racial-justice organizations. With another large-scale BAR event planned for December, Velez—whose main gig is making desserts at the acclaimed DC restaurants Maydan and Compass Rose—has decided to assist hospitality workers who are struggling financially. She recently helped launch Bee’s Grocery Fund with BAR to distribute $50 mini-grants for workers’ food needs.

Oh…her food is delicious. A loaf of babka was perfect for Hanukkah but would be awesome at any time. And now you don’t have to be in DC! You can get her La Bodega offerings shipped right to you. A Thickems Trio should have arrived at Jason’s place in NJ earlier this week. Buy from La Bodega, buy from your local restaurants. Order take-out direct or through an app that doesn’t exploit, and tip like you’re dining in. We need restaurants and passionate chefs in our communities.