New York City and the surrounding area is a major epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, and hospital workers there have been working overtime to handle the surplus of patients. At the same time, a lot of people aren’t working. Waiters, hotel staff, and, of course, the actors, extras, production staff and service workers that support New York’s prodigious film and television industry have been twiddling their thumbs since film locations shut down in the middle of March.
Paul Brozen owns New York Picture Cars, a small company that supplies vintage cars to productions like Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and HBO’s 1970s drugs and porn drama, The Deuce. He hasn’t been working amid the public health crisis-induced hiatus, but the downtime got him thinking about what he could do to help the people who were putting it all on the line to save lives.
“I realized that the film industry had the ability to feed hundreds of crew and cast on location with a mobile kitchen,” he said. “So my son Liam and I came up with a concept to provide hot meals to-go for hospital staff.”
After Brozen roped the rest of his family—his wife, Ellen, and daughter, Caitlin—into his plan, he got in touch with producers Andrew Saxe and Michael Kriaris, plus other industry contacts, to get the ball rolling. Henry’s International Cuisine and other on-location catering companies agreed to provide, at no cost, mobile kitchen trucks that typically serve food for film and television productions. Next, they started a GoFundMe campaign that, after a couple of weeks, raised more than $90,000 for food and supplies from more than 500 different donors.
Since April 14, they have delivered more than 15,000 meals to hospital workers across 18 different facilities New York and New Jersey, raising over $108,000. The menu has included grilled chicken, flank steak, Italian meatballs on ziti and, as always, vegetarian options.
“After 10 years of being fed in the film industry, I always look forward to a job where I see the Henry’s truck, because I know the food is going to be top notch,” Brozen said, adding that within a few days, word got around among hospital workers that the food was really good.
Brozen has been directing the operation, but it was his network of industry contacts that got him an in with Henry’s. He said there has been a lot of hard work and cooperation that has gone into the project, which they plan to continue until the money runs out.
“A few of the hospital staffers stayed to chat and express their feelings about what the to-go meals meant to them,” Brozen said. “For me, it was proof that the concept was having an impact.”
As an added bonus, Brozen has been using his Hagerty-insured, NYPD-liveried 1985 Chevrolet Caprice wagon to pick up and deliver shipments of food to the kitchen trucks.
“The wagon is a big hit,” he said. “If I was in a 2020 Chevrolet van, no one would notice, but when you’re in a 1985 Chevrolet Caprice police wagon, wow. It brings back a lot of fond memories for people.”