Kevin MartinezKevin Martinez

2021 Beyond Award Winner

Tokyo Cafe

The second annual Beyond Award recognizes outstanding service in the hospitality industry. This year’s honoree is Chef Kevin Martinez from Tokyo Cafe.

Before COVID-19, the hospitality industry boasted more than 24,000 jobs. In the past year, there have been many heroes who have gone above and beyond to do their jobs and to help others.

This year’s honoree was nominated 10 times by his peers and his competitors.

At the onset of the pandemic, Kevin wanted to help put food on the table for hospitality workers out of work and in need. Every Sunday – last March through December – he led the preparation of 150 big bags of food with at least 12 meals each, first to service folks, then adding frontline workers, and then making it open to anyone who needed food.

That’s 48,000 free meals prepared last year.

Kevin organized other chefs and kitchens to take turns preparing food, and still showed up on his day off to help hand out these care packs. There is no supporting organization, just friends who want to help their city.

They accept no money and ask no questions. They make it fun, not embarrassing to accept help. As one person wrote on his nomination, “His soul is golden and his character is strong.”

Kevin says it was a simple decision: everything shut down and he just jumped in. As our honoree stated, “It says a lot about our community and how much they care about our work family. We are competition but there’s enough for everyone.”