The Rosewood Miramar Beach resort and its beachfront restaurant Caruso’s may be closed, but its Executive Chef Massimo Falsini is keeping at what he does best to benefit of the community through #MiramarOnTheMove, a new effort to bring meals to those in need amid the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis.
The efforts began last week, as Mr. Falsini has traveled around town in the Miramar food truck delivering meals to places like first responder agencies, pharmacies, and homeless shelters. In an interview with the News-Press, the chef said the idea of using the food truck to provide meals for those on the front lines of helping the community during the coronavirus outbreak came from Rosewood Miramar Beach owner Rick Caruso. When it looked like the hotel and its restaurant would do as other resorts and eateries had done by shutting down operations to slow the spread of COVID-19, Mr. Falsini received a directive from the hotel owner to order a large shipment of food to be used for assisting the local community.
Mr. Falsini recollected, “We thought, ‘how can we use this to help others?’”
On the first day of #MiramarOnTheMove, which was also Mr. Falsini’s 47th birthday, the chef prepared breakfast burritos in the back of the Miramar food truck as Caruso’s Managing Director Philipp Posch drove the vehicle around town to locations like the homeless family shelter Transition House, the Santa Barbara Police Department, the Montecito Fire Protection District, Montecito Village Grocery, and the Mental Wellness Center.
At the Mental Wellness Center, Mr. Falsini and Mr. Posch stopping by with the food truck was a stroke of good fortune. For Mr. Falsino, it was “the most touching moment” of the endeavor. As he remembered, when he and Mr. Posch arrived, one of its administrators was especially glad because the center had run short of food after its supply chain had been disrupted. Last Friday’s stop at the center made it a particularly happy birthday for Mr. Falsini.
“When I saw the face of the manager of the Santa Barbara Mental Wellness Center it was the best gift I ever received. It was incredible,” he said.
It seems that Mr. Falsini’s efforts are not only rewarding for him, but well appreciated by those on the receiving end. Montecito Fire Protection District Battalion Chief David Neels was in a meeting when the Miramar food truck pulled up in front of his fire station and was indoors for the entire time it was there, but he did manage to try one of Mr. Falsini’s burritos.
“It was pretty darn tasty,” he said.
The battalion chief called Miramar’s meal delivery a “really kind gesture” that all the firefighters on duty that morning were grateful for.
“Everybody was really happy… The guys who were here were very appreciative,” Battalion Chief Neels said.
Mr. Falsini told the News-Press that he, Mr. Posch, and Mr. Caruso are committed to continuing #MiramarOnTheMove as long as needed. Until the coronavirus crisis subsides, the Miramar food truck will continue delivering meals to the Mental Wellness Center and the Santa Barbara Salvation Army every morning. On average, Mr. Falsini makes 350 meals every day, the ingredients for which he prepares, chops, and sauces the night before. Around 5 a.m., he gets up and reheats the ingredients before making meals out of them. Each meal has two items, one hot and one cold, which are sealed in boxes for handing out. Though he always insists that meals get prepared in highly sanitary conditions, the chef said he has taken his sanitizing to a whole new level given the current situation.
“These days it’s excessive,” he said of his cleaning protocol.
Though he’s not sure how offering meals to various organizations daily through #MiramarOnTheMove will impact the resort or Caruso’s financially, Mr. Falsini remarked that he wasn’t told to worry about its cost. He was just told to help the community and not cut any corners in doing so.
As a matter of fact, Mr. Falsini’s deliveries with the Miramar food truck will soon expand beyond just meals. The chef revealed that this week he will receive shipments of baby formula, snacks, and diapers for young children at Transition House, as well as toilet paper and paper towels for local senior living facilities.
“It’s not at a matter of how much it costs,” he said. “It’s a matter of how we can help the community at this moment.”
Mr. Falsini doesn’t see #MiramarOnTheMove as a chance to keep his culinary skills going while his normal workplace is closed, but rather an endeavor that can, to some degree, bring the community together at this time of social distancing. Seeing food as a huge part of the social experience people share with one another, for him there’s little choice but to keep cooking for other people. As an example of his point, the chef recalled when the Miramar food truck showed up in front of the Mental Wellness Center. #MiramarOnTheMove did maintain social distancing by having one person at a time walk up to the truck to receive their meal, but to him, the center administrator’s reaction to when it stopped by embodies the spirit of coming together that is especially needed now.
“When I saw the smile on his face, it fills up your heart,” Mr. Falsini said.