19,000 Plates and Counting: Beastie Boys' Mike D Runs a Free Food Truck 19,000 Plates and Counting: Beastie Boys' Mike D Runs a Free Food Truck

19,000 Plates and Counting: Beastie Boys' Mike D Runs a Free Food Truck

by Yasha Wallin

April 8, 2013

The Beastie Boys’ Michael Diamond, AKA Mike D, wears many hats: music icon, surfer, curator, coffee-connoisseur, creator of all things awesome, father. But just because the legendary lyricist is now a proud family man, doesn’t mean he’s slowed down—he’s been busy dishing out over 19,000 free hot meals to date, as Rockaway Plate Lunch, a food truck he started with friend and restauranteur Robert McKinley. Partnering with some of New York City’s best known chefs, along with Rockaway Beach’s local community, they’ve been working in the area ever since Hurricane Sandy hit. Here we talk to him about his efforts, and one of his many passions: eating.

GOOD: How did the idea behind the Rockaway Plate Lunch come about?

Mike D: Rob and I went out [to the Rockaways] very shortly after Sandy. We had no idea what was needed other than contractor bags, batteries, flashlights. So we loaded up Rob’s car to the roof, and brought them out to Rockaway Surf Club. We saw right away all these people living without any power, without any businesses being open, and therefore, no food. We saw the immediate need for warm food, but we didn’t have time to put together a long-term cohesive plan, we just had to react quickly. Rob comes from the hotel and restaurant business, and with myself, being involved in a couple of restaurants and just knowing all the friends in that world, we were able to draw on a bunch of these contacts and start bringing food out from restaurants in the city. But we quickly saw, to get a lot of people fed and to have something warm we needed a truck. So we went to Sam Talbot, the Breslin/Spotted Pig team, and the Fat Radish people and said ‘hey, we’re going to get this food truck going, but can you guys provide us with chefs and cooking expertise to execute this?’ Thankfully, people were already looking for a way that people could be of service out there and this was a super grassroots, very direct way that they could.

GOOD: Are you still out there everyday?

Mike D: We are still out there on a more reduced schedule, and we’re in talks with a bunch of people to coordinate with the local community, because what we really want to do is transition. There’s still the need for warm food out there, but our real goal for this summer is to help revitalize the local economy. So we’re trying to switch the truck over from giving away food, to charging for food but having it become staffed, run and operated on every level by citizens of the Rockaways. We’ll keep the same restaurants that have been involved, but in a mentoring capacity.

Restaurants aren’t just about what happens in the kitchen: there’s social media, social media marketing there are so many careers that exist [in the industry], but nobody has explained [it] to all of these kids. So we’re in the process of involving some of the kids we’ve met out there first hand, and some of the local pastors and clergymen as well as the Congressman’s office to figure out the best way to pool those resources. And if we can be part of a movement we can help inspire that kind of local tourism that’s going to mean a lot for their economy out there.

Images courtesy of Rockaway Plate Lunch; Mike D image via (cc) Flickr user fabbio

Recently on GOOD
Sign up to receive the best of GOOD delivered to your inbox each and every weekday
19,000 Plates and Counting: Beastie Boys' Mike D Runs a Free Food Truck