The COVID-19 pandemic had a disproportionate impact on the restaurant industry as national chains with advanced digital platforms were able to quickly adapt to the health crisis. But independent mom-and-pop restaurants were left in a difficult position, especially those with a business model that relied on in-door dining to remain profitable.
By the time Americans rang in 2021, more than 110,00 eating and drinking establishments closed either temporarily or permanently. Months later and many more are struggling to remain open. To help ease the financial burden, Chef Marcus Samuelsson is teaming up with the James Beard Foundation and beer giant Stella Artois to auction an NFT of Samuelsson’s famous fried chicken recipe.
NFTs at the intersection of art and creativity
Samuelsson, Stella Artois, and the James Beard Foundation are auctioning off the “Chef’s Special NFT Collection” with the help of auctioning giant Christie’s. The winner will receive a digital file of Chef Samuellson’s Fried Yardbird recipe in the form of an NFT along with a personalized video and an opportunity to dine at his iconic Red Rooster restaurant in Harlem, New York City. Proceeds from the auction will go to the James Beard Foundation’s Food and Beverage Investment Fund for Black and Indigenous Americans.
Speaking to Invezz in an interview, Samuelsson said that NFTs are at the intersection of art and creativity. Embracing the future of art is a unique way to raise money for a worthy cause. He said:
I talked to chefs across the country every week and a lot of our chefs are going to close and they’re not coming back and that’s really really sad because they really devoted their lives to the industry. So anytime we can help one from closing, it’s really important.
A ‘delicious experience’
The estimated value of the NFT auction is $7,500 and bidding closes on July 16 at 5:00PM EDT. Samuelsson told Invezz that the auction is a “delicious experience” and the public is encouraged to have fun and bid on a worthy cause.
The NFT might be a first for Samuelsson, but this isn’t the case for Stella Artois. The beer company collaborated in June with Zed Run to launch a digital horse racing NFT event. Commenting on the “Chef’s Special NFT Collection,” Stella Artois Communications and Creative Lead Lauren Denowitz said in the press release:
We’re thrilled to partner with JBF and award-winning chef Marcus Samuelsson to serve up an iconic recipe in a unique way. As a continuation to the brand’s global NFT initiatives, we’re looking forward to expanding our NFT collection benefiting at-risk restaurants and ensuring they have a future as they are a place for consumers to continue living out Stella’s brand purpose of savoring life together
Chefs ‘are resilient’
Chefs “are resilient” and are considered the “heartbeat of communities and neighborhoods,” the chef told Invezz. While the public has been “amazing” in supporting local restaurants, more needs to be done. Samuelsson is honored to collaborate with an important partner to the restaurant industry and help as many at-risk restaurant owners as possible via the NFT sale. When asked if he has asked his celebrity chef friends to partake in the bidding process themselves, he answered:
That’s a good idea and I do think that NFTs are definitely here [to stay], especially for our community. It’s going to be a great cause for us to be able to raise money for important issues.
Samuelson will be speaking at the Christie’s Art & Tech Summit: NFTs and Beyond event on July 15 in New York City. While he can’t provide any specific details as to what he will talk about, he said he is excited to talk about his NFT project infront of a curious audience.
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