Home » Watertown catering company among those teaming with World Central Kitchen to provide meals to those in need

Watertown catering company among those teaming with World Central Kitchen to provide meals to those in need

The partnership between Phinix Kitchens and its surrounding community is like a bridge, said owner Sam Pogosov.



a hand holding a cell phone: Sam Pogosov, owner of Phinix Virtual Kitchens, has hot meals ready to be loaded onto two Revere school buses. Meals from his Watertown-based business, and other area restaurants, are delivered to families in Revere, who are affected by the continuing coronavirus pandemic.


© Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff
Sam Pogosov, owner of Phinix Virtual Kitchens, has hot meals ready to be loaded onto two Revere school buses. Meals from his Watertown-based business, and other area restaurants, are delivered to families in Revere, who are affected by the continuing coronavirus pandemic.

If assembled in a certain way, vulnerable pieces can be stacked to hold each other up. The bridge they create is strong enough to hold people, cars, trucks.

“By themselves, each piece is probably going to fall and tumble,” said Pogosov. “But together, they’re practically indestructible.”

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, restaurants have shut their doors and people have become more food insecure. In March, several organizations arose to address the disparity between available food and hungry people.

Chef Jose Andres’s World Central Kitchen, an 11-year-old nonprofit that aims to provide food for communities affected by natural and manmade disasters around the world, joined this effort. WCK pays restaurants around $10 for each plate of food made for communities affected by COVID-19. As of last month, WCK is working with 17 Boston restaurants and catering venues, including Phinix Kitchens, to provide food for 17 communities.

Funding from WCK has been integral in keeping restaurants’ doors open, said Pogosov. Phinix, a Watertown-based catering company, lost 90 percent of its business during the pandemic. If not for WCK, Pogosov would have had to lay off employees and drastically reduce the hours of those who remain, he said.

But that’s not why Phinix originally joined the effort.

Like many others, Pogosov was hopeful at the beginning of the pandemic. In a few weeks, Pogosov thought, things will get better and businesses will open again.

In April, Phinix began serving meals for vulnerable communities and covering the cost themselves. They were able to serve about 2,000 meals before running out of money, Pogosov said. Off Their Plate, an organization that was later absorbed by World Central Kitchen, heard about Phinix’s efforts and offered to pay Phinix to provide meals for frontline workers.

A few months later, Phinix started working more closely with WCK and transitioned back to feeding people in need.

Community members helping community members is what makes this program so special, said Fiona Donovan, Relief Operations Lead at WCK.

“We’re involved insofar as connecting people, but we’re not flying into a new place, providing support, then leaving,” said Donovan. “I think that 2021 will continue to be a year where neighbors help neighbors. I think it’s very healing for a lot of people to be able to participate in the recovery of their community in such a direct and tangible way as providing a hot plate of food.”

Pogosov agrees. There’s something about watching and interacting with the people who eat the food he and his team put so much love into, said Pogosov.

“There was one delivery near the beginning of the pandemic when I just remember thinking, ‘If these plates weren’t there, what would all these people eat?’ They don’t have alternatives,” said Pogosov.

Being a part of this program gives him and his team a broader purpose, he said. They put the same “control and precision” into these plates as the ones they sell.

“This food is not an afterthought — it’s not leftovers,” said Pogosov. “We serve people, and you’re a person if you’ve lost your job, you’ve kept your job, or you’re just struggling. That’s important for people to know.”

As of December, Phinix drops off food for communities in Revere and Hyde Park — these plates make up anywhere from 40 percent to 60 percent of his revenue. He needs to keep serving these communities to survive, he said, and these communities need his food to survive.

“It’s symbiosis,” Pogosov said. “That’s why I want to continue being a part of this — even if my business returns to normal tomorrow. I’ve met the people I’m helping and I know the impact it has in their life. There’s power in that.”

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