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Mission in My Words: Chef Max

From my home country of Switzerland to Nashville, Tennessee–I have encountered homeless people in every city. Homelessness transcends international borders.
I was living in Montreal, Canada, when I saw a family shivering outside my apartment. They had built a fire in the alley to stay warm. Concerned, I asked why they didn’t go to the shelter? The father tells me it’s not a place for children. When I saw them the next day I offered them food and coffee.The father thanked me and assured me they would be okay. When I again asked about shelter, he told me he didn’t want to put his children in a shelter. Instead he’s told his children they were on a camping adventure.
Each and every life experience makes an impact on me. I’m not sure what chain of events led this family to becoming homeless, but I believe pride kept him from getting the help they needed.
I still remember the 48-year-old accountant I met at a homeless shelter in Washington, D.C. After his wife left, he started drinking, then doing drugs. He lost his job and was evicted. He resorted to living in his car, until it was repossessed and he became homeless. He was stealing to survive. Thankfully, his pride did not keep him from asking for help. I connected him with different resources and hope that today, some 20 years later, he is doing better.
I see life as a circle. I want to be a good steward to my business, my community, to my employees, to my work, and to myself. One of my goals is to protect the land, the sea, and the environment. I want to give back as much as I take.
Food is one way of doing that. It has the power to bring back memories. I might not be able to cook the same meal like your mom, but if I can get close, perhaps it brings back a happy memory for you.
Since being hired as the Executive Chef for Music City Center (MCC) and moving here in 2013, my family and I call Nashville home. I want to nurture and respect the foods of this region. I’ve built relationships with local farmers and vendors in the area. At MCC we pride ourselves on a building that was built to be sustainable, on delivering a quality food experience, and bringing business to Nashville.
We made the decision to partner with Nashville Rescue Mission and other local nonprofits as our way of giving back. Donating leftover food to the Mission means nothing is wasted. We will not donate anything that we would not eat ourselves. We keep the food at safe temperatures until it is delivered to the Mission. Some days it’s might be enough sandwiches to feed all the guests. Other days it might be vegetables, or fruit trays.
But as I like to say, drip by drip you make an ocean. Every little bit helps. It feels great to know that the food is helping people in need.

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