HEARD: It’s a simple word on a metal wristband, but it tugs at your emotions. We can interpret it in any number of ways. If you work in a restaurant kitchen, it’s the lingo that means you’re listening to the chef and recognize what’s needed. Chef George Mandakas, who founded Chef Metal Jewelry, which produces the wristbands, is hoping it means something else: that we’re listening to restaurant workers who have endured racism, that we are working to understand, and that we support change. Mandakas has cooked in professional kitchens and for charity events for years. He is now the executive chef at Fordham University and launched the New Jersey jewelry company earlier this year to produce wristbands for charity events he catered. He was inspired to create the HEARD wristband by the words of his friend chef Ming Tsai — “We have to listen, absorb, understand, then act.” The two chefs have partnered and established the HEARD Initiative to raise money for the James Beard Foundation’s Food and Beverage Investment Fund that supports businesses owned by Black and Indigenous individuals. “These are people that don’t always get media attention and the acknowledgment they should,” says Mandakas. “Inequality has been part of the industry for years.” When you buy a HEARD bracelet, 100 percent of the profits go to the James Beard fund. The wristbands are hand-hammered and available in stainless steel or brass and cost $30; shipping is included. For more information about the initiative and to order a wristband, visit chefmetal.com/heard-x-ming-tsai.
ANN TRIEGER KURLAND
Ann Trieger Kurland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.