The annual Free Press countdown of top local restaurants is scrapped, with the pandemic having effectively closed indoor dining for nearly half of the past year. In its place, outgoing restaurant critic Mark Kurlyandchik produced something more meaningful: A package of reports on "food fighters" — or chefs and restaurateurs "who used food to make a positive impact in their communities over the last year."
Topping that list as "chef of the year" is Phil Jones, who has cooked at or helped open a bundle of popular Detroit eateries in the past two decades, including Fishbones, Rattlesnake Club, Beverly Hills Grill, Lola’s, COLORS and Zoup!.
Among his contributions during the pandemic:
"Securing thousands of pounds of raw products for the Too Many Cooks In the Kitchen initiative"
"Helping coordinate massive Friday food pickups at the TCF Center"
"Feeding 5,000 hungry Detroiters on Thanksgiving using food that would otherwise go to waste and then turning around and doing it again on Christmas"
Watch him cook his signature "Black Bottom Poletown Sweet Potato Pierogi" here. The dumpling pays homage to two local neighborhoods razed for development.