Supporting local food economies, restaurants, and South Seattle neighbors, this program serves up more than just meals.
by Mark Van Streefkerk
In March 2020, restaurants were in trouble. Seattle was the U.S. epicenter of COVID-19, and a wave of shutdowns called for the immediate temporary closure of restaurants — some of which never reopened. Food scarcity was exacerbated as closures across all industries led to higher rates of unemployment. These disruptions also affected local farmers, many of whom lost half their major market channels instantly with the closures of schools and restaurants. In the South End, however, a handful of like-minded chefs made arguably one of the savviest pandemic pivots in the industry: They started the Seattle Kitchen Collective.
When Chef Melissa Miranda was younger and working as a sous-chef at French and Italian restaurants, she never thought an upscale Filipino restaurant would be a possibility. Miranda studied sociology; attended culinary school in Florence, Italy; and worked in restaurants in New York City before coming back home to Seattle, where she had the opportunity she never imagined: She founded Musang, an upscale Filipino restaurant that began as a pop-up in 2016 before becoming a full-fledged restaurant in Beacon Hill in 2020. Today, Musang’s success has earned Miranda major notoriety: She’s a James Beard Award semifinalist for best chef, Northwest and Pacific.
For Chef Melissa Miranda, Musang has always been more than a restaurant. The popular popup found a permanent home in North Beacon Hill at the beginning of this year, and through the crisis of COVID-19, pivoted to a community kitchen as well as restaurant, offering free or pay-what-you-can meals during the pandemic. Musang is one of seven restaurants and popups that form the Seattle Kitchen Collective, a grassroots collective of like-minded chefs who provide meals for community members who need them. Now through Little Wildcats cooking classes, Miranda, Chef Amelia Franada, and Chef Marizel Yuen are sharing Filipinx culture with the youngest in the community.