Governor Gavin Newsom Announces New Restaurant Support with a Post Covid-19 Mission: High Road Kitchens to Provide Jobs, Meals Now and Raise Employment Standards for Good

San Francisco, Calif.May 5, 2020 — Chef Daniel Patterson’s nonprofit, The Cooking Project partners with Saru Jayaraman’s One Fair Wage, Robert Egger and the State of California to create High Road Kitchens, an initiative to help activate California restaurants in feeding people displaced by the COVID-19 crisis. On May 1, Governor Newsom announced the program and High Road Kitchens launched in twelve restaurants across California, paying out-of-work cooks to prepare meals for the community on a sliding scale. Restaurants must commit to paying a fair wage, abiding by equity standards and offering at least 500 free meals.

High Road Kitchens aims to simultaneously address restaurant workers’ need for employment, their communities’ need for food, and the industry’s need for improved employment standards. In developing the program, Patterson and the Cooking Project worked with One Fair Wage to imagine a structure with restaurant workers and their communities at heart. 

The initiative, funded through the State of California, municipal governments and One Fair Wage’s (OFW) valued corporate partners, will be executed initially through OFW’s RAISE restaurant members, including Alta Adams in Los Angeles, Ponce’s Mexican Restaurant in San Diego, and Flour + Water and Namu Stonepot in San Francisco.  From there, the aim is to financially and operationally help restaurants throughout the state that would like to participate. Additional sponsors of the program are still welcome and needed. 

“During a time when our own programming must remain on hold, we wanted to find a way to continue our mission of good food for everyone, which is more important now than ever,” said Daniel Patterson, cofounder of the Cooking Project. “High Road Kitchens can provide support to allow cooks to return safely to their kitchens where they can do what they love, make food for their communities,”

“Cooks have donated time, ingredients, mentorship, personal recipes and stories to our classes and youth.  We owe so much to our generous restaurant community,” said Sasha Bernstein Skon, Cooking Project’s cofounder. “We hope that High Road Kitchens can help bring warmth to those struggling and also rebuild a system that protects the most vulnerable longer term.”  

The Cooking Project is a chef-led nonprofit dedicated to preserving cooking traditions and helping young people better feed themselves–ultimately keeping people cooking and aiding in community nourishment. High Road Kitchens supports these foundational values; in response to the COVID-19 crisis, the organization will serve affected communities of all ages, ongoing. Restaurants that would like to join should contact:

How It Works

Safe, Standardized Process

Participating restaurants create one meal per day, available for pick up during a two hour window. They follow standardized safety guidelines for both producing and handing out the food. Meals are prepaid through apps like Tock, so there is no exchange of money at the site.

Sliding Scale Model

People pay $0-20 per meal, allowing for some to subsidize others’ meals or “pay it forward.” 

Rebuilding Restaurant Responsibilities

Participating restaurants are required to join One Fair Wage within five years, implement its race, gender and equity programs, serve a minimum of 500 free meals, and follow through with the scaled payment model.


The Cooking Project is a nonprofit organization founded by Daniel Patterson and Sasha Bernstein Skon in 2013 to help youth better feed themselves. Its mission is to teach young people fundamental cooking skills and preserve cultural culinary traditions. By focusing on delicious, inexpensive dishes from diverse cultural traditions, the community of chefs, writers, home cooks, and farmers seeks to demystify the culture of food, make good food more accessible, and equip young people to successfully take on challenges in the kitchen and out. @cooking_project

One Fair Wage is advancing policy, driving industry change, and shifting the narrative in order to ensure that all workers in America are paid at least the full minimum wage from their employers. One Fair Wage is calling for ‘No Worker Left Behind;’ that every person who works should be paid at least a full, fair minimum wage from their employer. @1FairWage_official

High Road Kitchens (HRK) are independent restaurants that provide food on a sliding scale to low-wage workers, health care workers, first responders, and others in need. Launched during the COVID-19 crisis, HRK provides jobs for restaurant workers and a subsidy for responsible restaurant owners who commit to paying a living wage and following equitable employment practices. @highroadkitchens