Morton client The Burnt Tongue facilitates local food donation program

Dec 7, 2020

The independent restaurant scene in Hamilton, Ontario is vibrant and growing, and The Burnt Tongue is one of the city’s gems. The restaurant was opened by Leo Tsangarakis and Dan Robinson in 2013 and quickly became a popular spot to grab lunch or dinner. The Burnt Tongue specialize in incredible soups served with frites, sandwiches and salads. The soup menu changes daily and is in such high demand, The Burnt Tongue now has three locations on Cannon, Locke and King Street.

The Burnt Tongue has been a Morton Food Service client since day one, and we’ve been proud to watch their business thrive. In recent years, we’ve had even more reason to be proud of them as they’ve demonstrated exceptional generosity and commitment to the greater Hamilton community. Here’s how The Burnt Tongue has helped support at-risk populations and fight food insecurity.

The reality of food insecurity in Hamilton — and a desire to help

Hamilton is an amazing place to live, but there are undeniable issues with homelessness and food insecurity, particularly in the downtown core. On his way to work, co-owner Leo would drive past the homeless encampments and wonder what he could do to help. One day, his staff came to him with an idea. They wanted to donate leftover soup, buns, carrot sticks and other items to the local homeless population. Leo immediately agreed, and his staff quickly packed up some lunches. They distributed the food themselves, finding encampment residents to be gracious and appreciative of a hot meal.

As food insecurity remained top of mind of Leo, he started wondering about how else his team could help. His staff donated lunches a few more times, but they didn’t have the resources to do it on a regular basis. The restaurant had previously worked with a few nonprofit organizations and care providers, including Hamilton Health Services, who used grant money to purchase soup from The Burnt Tongue to feed at risk patients. The Burnt Tongue had also collaborated with Living Rock Ministries, a fantastic organization that supports at-risk youth and offers much needed food programs. The restaurant volunteered time and equipment to help youth learn how to make soup as part of the annual SoupFest fundraiser. In short: Leo and his team had done plenty of things to help the less fortunate, but they wanted to do more.

Coming together to feed at-risk youth

Then, Leo had an idea. He called up his Morton sales rep and asked him if Morton had any extra food available — namely, things with a limited shelf life that might go to waste if not cooked soon. He explained that he’d like to help get more food in the hands of Living Rock Ministries, who would use the food to prepare dishes for at-risk youth. Morton was happy to oblige, and quickly sent over some boxes of cooked chicken. In the weeks to come, our team was able to donate chicken breasts, some whole hams, several cases of prepared western omelets, hundreds of dinner rolls and more. It was a win for everyone: The Burnt Tongue had facilitated the donation, Morton was able to reduce food waste and Living Rock was given some restaurant quality food at no cost.

The start of something good

Leo is modest about his role in this story, calling it the result of “community action” and insisting that he’s been a small part of the process, but we disagree. Without Leo’s care and efforts, Morton wouldn’t have known about Living Rock or had the opportunity to donate food. It was Leo’s phone call that got the ball rolling, his relationship with Living Rock that allowed these donations to happen, and his staff who inspired him to address food insecurity in the community. True, it’s a collaborative effort, but it started at The Burnt Tongue. We’re proud to work with this great team, and look forward to continuing our support of their mission.