Chef Al, of Big Al’s Deli, cannot wait to wow guest at Generous Helpings 2023 on April 19th!
Big Al started Big Al’s Deli almost 10 years ago with his son. After a divorce, Al got custody of his children and needed to start a new career so he could spend more time with his children. Working in a kitchen provided the perfect opportunity. That was 30 years ago, and, now, he is serving some of the best food you can find in Nashville.
For a man that loves to cook, Al isn’t too picky about his food. He typically just eats peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or oatmeal. He says the reason he cooks is because “he wants to make food that makes people happy.” Serving the community is at the heart of Big Al’s Deli.
During the pandemic, the deli fell on hard times, as did many small businesses in the food industry. Al remembers, “I looked at my son three years ago and said ‘we’re not making any money because of this pandemic, we’re gonna have to close.’” Thankfully, Second Harvest was able to connect Al with World Central Kitchen – an organization that provides meals in the wake of natural disasters. This partnership saved this North Nashville iconic institution. “What I know about Second Harvest,” says Al, “is I love them.” He continues, “Second Harvest does a lot of good work feeding people, and helping out people in the community.”
“That’s what Second Harvest Food Bank is to me. Second Harvest is love.“
Working with World Central Kitchen was a life changing experience for Al, who never knew how many people were going hungry right here in Nashville. Al says, “When you see people like the elderly are hungry and lonely, a nice meal does more than feed them. It puts a smile on their face.” At Generous Helpings, Al is “excited for people to learn about Second Harvest and their mission.” “I’ve always been taught,” Al says, “you never focus on yourself. You focus on those who need help. You focus on those who need love, and that’s what Second Harvest Food Bank is to me. Second Harvest is love.” Al is excited that at Generous Helpings it isn’t a competitive atmosphere, where each chef is trying to one-up another. Instead, it is a night where Nashville works together as a team to give back to the community. “I don’t do a lot of events,” he says, “so when I do, I want them to advance the community.” He says, “You are going to get more food than you can eat from the best restaurants in Nashville, also it’s for a great cause. This is something you need to do.”