Neighborhood Heroes: Executive Chef Andrew Bice, Noble Bird Rotisserie

noble bird
Photo: Courtesy of Anne Watson Photography

To overcome the catastrophic coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic at hand, it’s important to recognize the positives. One beacon is selfless service. Countless acts by organizations and individuals alike are minimizing the lasting damage. This hard work isn’t only done by the ER doctors, nurses, and first responders constituting our last line of defense. It’s also the good Samaritans doing thankless work next door. We raise our glasses to all the local heroes on the front lines—from all the hospital workers to the grocery stockers, postal workers, small business owners, plus those delivering goods to the elderly and at-risk, #weoweyoudrink.

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This week, we connected with the Executive Chef of Noble Bird Rotisserie, Andrew Brice. Located in Long Beach, CA, Bice and his team have started a campaign called “Noble Meals for Noble Heroes.” You can donate to the GoFundMe campaign where 100 percent of the proceeds go to feeding the brave people on the frontlines of this pandemic (from hospital workers to local police and firefighters, to Salvation Army employees). The crew hopes to deliver 25-50 meals per delivery, and a $10 donation provides one full meal. In addition to this initiative, Noble Bird is also sponsoring one frontline family per week and providing them with a week’s worth of groceries from their own kitchen. The restaurant and its team is seriously stepping up during this time of crisis, and their noble work is truly making a difference.

Here, Bice gives us a look into their world right now.

noble birs
Noble Bird’s “Noble Meals for Noble Heroes” campaign is feeding our frontline heroes. Photo: Courtesy of Noble Bird

Name: Andrew Bice

Title: Executive Chef, Noble Bird Rotisserie

Location: Long Beach, CA

Years on the Job: 19 years as a professional chef

MJ: How has your work changed in the last two weeks?

ANDREW BICE: You know, our restaurant wasn’t even open three months when the shutdown happened. We were just starting to find our groove and had a pretty great team of 40 employees that we suddenly had to furlough and go from that to operating a skeleton crew of five. It’s 13- to 14-hour days and it’s all hands on deck—I’m doing dishes, answering the phone, janitorial duties, you name it.

We’ve been modifying our business model and adapting with near daily changes, it’s been crazy. We started with takeout and then quickly kept making additional tweaks and changes, from contact-less takeout service to offering pantry essentials, meal kits with recipes, and even toilet paper with wine. We started wearing masks about two weeks before it was even required and let me tell you, wearing a mask sucks. It’s already hot in the kitchen so a mask only makes it worse—your face is sweating—I don’t think it’s something you just get used to.

On the upside, our food was pretty much built for takeout. Rotisserie chicken is about the easiest grab-and- go food, and is pretty much universally enjoyed and having to pivot to takeout was a blessing in disguise because I think it forced people to find us in their search for local takeout that the entire family could enjoy.

What’s the greatest challenge at hand right now?

Surviving as a business. Coming out of this and making it to the other side as a restaurant with the state mandates that we will have to abide by. If we have to limit our seating capacity by almost half and take everyone’s temperatures and space tables and guests out to be at least 6-feet apart… how are we going to be able to balance that with still being able to provide an enjoyable experience for guests and one that isn’t clinical? There’s a lot of uncertainty there and we’ll have to go through it and figure out how to navigate all that and just roll with it.

Do you feel at-risk/threatened?

Honestly, it’s hard to stop and think about that when you’re fighting day-in and day-out to keep your business alive. But from day one, we’ve operated under really stringent sanitation levels to avoid cross contamination of potential allergens in the restaurant for our guests, which now looking back, has really helped to prepare us for the pandemic and for what’s coming ahead.

When we opened, we installed a large hand-washing station right at the entrance of the restaurant to encourage hand-washing, and we have a three-step cleaning process for our tables and chairs—even the chair seats and chair legs get cleaned with disinfectant wipes. And after the pandemic was declared we even stopped allowing deliveries inside and had them drop off in the back.

We think we will continue many of the things we already started, like contact-less takeout and we’ll continue to do what it takes to ensure the safety of our team and guests.

Do you see any signs of hope?

It’s been eye-opening being able to provide meals to our local first responders. We’ve seen first-hand the exhaustion on their faces and come upon scenes of makeshift triage tents outside the hospitals, it really brings the battle against COVID-19 to the forefront.

We launched a GoFundMe campaign less than a month ago and the generosity from the community has been amazing. We’ve been able to provide more than 800 meals to local hospitals, police departments, fire stations and even to essential workers from The Salvation Army who are providing groceries to medically-compromised seniors and the staff of our local Boys & Girls Club who are providing childcare to first responder families. That’s the best thing to come out of all this—seeing our communities come together to help.

Should people still be working? How can folks help?

The issue has become so political. At the end of the day, the numbers of cases and deaths have to go down and we all have to do our part to help with that. But for so many us, working is very much a part of who we are. And restaurants are the lifeblood of so many communities and cities.

So many great restaurants, big and small, are not going to come out of this intact and whether people realize it or not, restaurants have always been an important part of everyday life—it’s where you bring your families and friends to celebrate occasions big and small, where you can sit down and be nourished, where you just stop to enjoy what’s in front of you, be it good company or a delicious meal.

Check Out Noble Bird's Website Here

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Do you know a Neighborhood Hero making a difference on the front lines of your community? There are three easy ways to nominate someone to be featured: 1. Nominate your Neighborhood Hero in the comments below and simply let us know why they deserve to be featured and how we can contact them. 2. Send us a Direct Message on Men’s Journal Instagram with your nomination. 3. Post their photo on Instagram using #weoweyouadrink (either on Stories or Feed). 

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