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The Dig Callback: Bronx Chef Millie Peartree Turns Hardship Into Blessing

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - On The Dig, CBS2's Elle McLogan unearths gems in local food and culture. In one past episode, she visited Millie Peartree Fish Fry & Soul Food, a former Fordham Manor restaurant that was known for its homestyle Southern menu. In this update, Elle checks in with chef Millie Peartree to find out how she has adapted amid uncertainty.


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In November 2019, Millie Peartree received unwelcome news: Unauthorized gas plumbing work in the building forced the closure of her beloved restaurant.

After years spent pouring her hard work and personal savings into the business and its expansion, she was both heartbroken and grateful.

"We've heard numerous times about building explosions throughout New York City," she said. "The only thing that I lost was my business. It could have been lives."

She began focusing solely on catering for income. But then, the coronavirus pandemic struck.

"It was like, blow one, blow two," she said.

But again, she considered herself among the lucky ones.

"Even though I don't have the most, I don't have the least," she said.

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When friends expressed a desire to donate meals to those in need, Peartree had an idea. She began raising money to provide meals to essential workers, from nurses to mail carriers.

"We felt like they deserved a meal and acknowledgement for all the hard work they were doing," she said.

Her cooking for a cause garnered private donations and corporate sponsorship.

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As the virus wanes, Peartree is looking to pivot her efforts to feeding underserved neighbors.

"The Bronx was hit relatively hard by the coronavirus," she said. "I want to make sure that people within communities that are overlooked, which consist mainly of Black and Brown children and adults, that they're helped."

She calls the initiative Full Heart Full Bellies, and she is seeking private donations through a GoFundMe campaign.

"It could be as little as one dollar, five dollars. Those little things help," she said.

She plans to serve dishes like panko-crusted chicken and turkey lasagna alongside vegetables and fresh fruit.

"It's time for me to pay it forward," she said.

What's something few people know about but everybody should? Whatever it is, Elle McLogan is tracking it down on The Dig. Join her hunt for treasures hidden across our area. Follow Elle on Twitter and Instagram.

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