PHOENIX — A Valley chef has self-quarantined herself for potential coronavirus, yet still finds ways to feed the hungry.
Silvana Salcido Esparza, owner of Barrio Cafe and Barrio Gran Reserva, also one of the more iconic chefs in Phoenix, traveled to England recently to help a cruise line restaurant with menu design. After she returned, she started to feel ill with symptoms such as difficulty breathing and a fever.
Chef Silvana, as she is known, decided to self-quarantine in her home office.
"How are we supposed to know we have coronavirus if the symptoms are that which we live with on the daily?" she asked. "I'm powerless. I'm quarantine but I'm only 30 feet away from the backdoor to my kitchen. How powerless can I be?"
Chef Silvana lives just behind her restaurant Barrio Cafe near 16th Street and Thomas Rd. Barrio Cafe, along with Barrio Gran Reserva, has been closed thanks to COVID-19.
Despite being limited to her home and backyard, Chef Silvana has orchestrated a free meal delivery out of her restaurant, using volunteer chefs to help cook meals for hungry people for absolutely no money.
"For the community who unfortunately lost their job right now or can't afford to eat right now they can just come on over, pick a bag up for lunch and just take it," said Brynda Felix, sous-chef at Barrio Gran Reserva.
Every day after 5 p.m., cars can line up behind Barrio Cafe and pick up a packed meal. The giveaway goes as long as supplies last.
The love Chef Silvana has for the community is a two-way street. Many people have thrown money over her fence for donations toward the work she is doing.
"Money has been flying over all day long. Fives. Tens. Twenties," said Chef Silvana on her Instagram.
The chef has also been a very vocal proponent of a city-wide lockdown to avoid the spread of COVID-19. She has even yelled at people taking photos with the street art on the walls of her home and restaurant to not be outside if you don't have to be outside.
"I see people taking pictures and I'm yelling 'hey I got coronavirus. I could have been walking right there what are you doing?'" said Chef Silvana.