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The Herbfarm: Serving Up Love Through Meals for Medical Staff

The Herbfarm is a world-famous, award-winning restaurant in Woodinville, known for delighting customers with their thematic multi-course meals, featuring food frequently grown on their farm. With recent events, proprietors Carrie Van Dyck and Ron Zimmerman and Chef Chris Weber and their teams have shifted their focus, thanks to an idea from some loyal customers.

What is The Herbfarm usually known for?
Carrie Van Dyck: What we do at The Herbfarm Restaurant is serve nine-course meals. It's always local seasonal food. You never know what you're going to have until you come to dinner. It's four hours of dining. We have our own farm. We have a cadre of local farmers, fishermen and cheesemakers.

But then COVID-19 dramatically changed, and you guys pivoted.
Well, on March 15 we were serving dinner, and during the course of that dinner, we heard an announcement for our governor, and then we told all our guests that may be the last time they ever dine at The Herbfarm. One of our customers had come to us and suggested we make some boxed meals for the local hospital workers, so we sent about 50 meals down to hospitals, and once we found out the restaurant had to close, the same customers tried to raise some funds [through a GoFundMe] so we can continue making the meals — continue keeping our team here, continue supporting the local food chain. (Note: As of Friday, May 8, the fund had raised over $302,000 of their $325,000 goal and served 10,000 meals).

So basically, these folks who are working on the front lines — they are getting these meals, and they're all donated.
They're donated, and it's totally community supported. It's amazing to me how generous the community has been to keep The Herbfarm providing meals for over 10 hospitals.

Can you mention a few of the hospitals that you've been delivering food to?
Overtake and Evergreen, University Hospital and Virginia Mason, Providence, Valley Medical, Children's Hospital.

About how many do you think you do a week? How many meals?
We do about two hundred a day.

That's a lot!
It is, and we have a team of volunteers who deliver the meals to the hospitals.

What has been the silver lining for you and your team?
That the team is still here — and a great silver lining is that The Herbfarm is still alive and kicking, and hopefully we'll be able to reopen. That's more than a lot of other people can say.

To me, at least, food is love. Do you feel like food is love in this situation?
Absolutely, I feel like we're boxing up a little bit of love every day. And they're receiving it, so that's good. They can feel it when they eat it.

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