Chef Eric Sze was born and raised in Taiwan. He says cooking always makes him feel nostalgic for home.
"It's something I always treasure, a memory palace that I always go back to," said Sze.
He spent Wednesday morning making his signature fried rice recipe.
"Very near and dear recipe probably my favorite fried rice even though it is the simplest," he said as he fired up the stove.
No surprise then that his East Village restaurant 886 serves authentic Taiwanese food.
Now he's putting his culinary talents to another use. He launched what he calls the Enough is Enough campaign, which highlights the surge in hate crimes against Asian-Americans.
886 and more than 20 other participating businesses owned by Asian-Americans are now providing meals to New Yorkers in need.
"To hopefully get more people talking on this topic and raise awareness and how people no matter how small you think you are your voice counts," Sze said.
In two weeks, the campaign's fundraising page generated more than $60,000.
"The amount of support we have received is inspiring I don't think this is something I imagined when I started the initiative it goes to show people care about the subject there just needs to be a call to action," Sze said.
Every donor was able to take a complimentary class taught by Sze and his culinary colleagues on Zoom this week. So far, Enough is Enough has provided 1,000 meals - and is hoping to donate 1,500 more.
"Any money we exceed the 2,500 mark will be donated to local charities and similar causes years in the making, Welcome to Chinatown, Send Chinatown Love, Heart of Dinner," said Sze.
As he packed up the meals he looked at his empty dining room--though he has been open since the summer, business tanked this year in the pandemic.
"I reminisce old times, we used to be a pretty popular restaurant and I hope to become that one day again," he said.
On this day he's loaded his SUV with meals his restaurant prepared, and is collecting more food from other donors. A batch went to Essex Market on the Lower East Side, to be given out to elderly Asian people in that community.
He applauds the City for implementing the Asian Hate Crime Task force for people to report attacks.
"The City Set up the task force I hope they keep it up very good," Sze said.
The chef hopes donated meals are also part of the solution.