Brooklyn’s Deli Guy Brandt

Potomac Customers Aren’t the Only People He Serves

Many of Brooklyn’s Deli’s regular diners, who enjoy the restaurant’s matzoh ball soup or corned beef sandwiches, know that chef and owner Guy Brandt has long given back to the community. In addition to helping feed the homeless and supporting charities including Save the Children,  he is very involved with José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen (WCK), the organization whose chefs and volunteers visit disaster sites across the world to provide food and other resources to those in dire need. 

Brandt has worked as a chef for more than  30 years and his restaurant business combined with an outgoing personality garnered him a vast network of friends and acquaintances. Former Maryland State Delegate, Mark Shriver, connected him to WCK and the rest is history. 

In May of 2022, Brandt spent 14 days in Przemyskl, Poland, as part of a volunteer team from around the world, including other trained chefs. Over the course of one week, they whipped up 750,000 meals, lunches, and dinners, working daily from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. They offered food to refugees streaming into Poland by car, but also to Ukrainians arriving by train with only their suitcases, children, and sometimes family pets. 

On a free day, Brandt had the opportunity to walk over the border into Ukraine. For him, the visit was especially personal because he was able to visit a small riverside town called Stryj, where his grandparents lived as children. His grandmother had six siblings and although she and her husband left Ukraine for the United States, all of her siblings who stayed died in the Holocaust. He also visited Lviv, a town where WCK serves thousands of people from many shelters. 

While in Poland, Brandt met a young woman who lived in the Netherlands but had saved money to buy a car and drive to her parents’ home in Ukraine. She waited in her car for six days until she was able to cross the border from Poland. Brandt and a fellow chef from Spain helped the woman with a two-night hotel stay until the Ukrainian border was reopened.  

Brandt is a proud member of World Central Kitchen’s Chef Corps, a global network of prominent culinary leaders who champion the organization’s work. He hopes to return to Ukraine but will travel wherever Chef Corps need him most. Three months after his work in Poland he spent time in Hazard, Kentucky with his daughter Hailey, cooking and handing out food to the state’s flood victims. 

Regarding the devastation in Ukraine, Brandt reflects, “You can’t really believe it until you see it with your own eyes.”

“Yesterday I walked through the streets of Poland…Today I went with the driver to drop off the food we made from World Central Kitchen. I could not control my emotions…I think we lose concept of how fortunate we are.”

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