When I’m not helping CulEpi bring you great stories, I’m spending my time serving guests at Little Tong Noodle Shop in New York’s East Village. I’ve only worked there since February, but already it’s the most friendly and welcoming work environment I’ve been lucky enough to find. “Family” is an important word in this restaurant, which is why Little Tong would like to invite you to support Sous Chef Misael Cruz by donating to their GoFundMe campaign or attending their Family Meal dinner events this weekend.
At 13 years old, Misael moved to the US from Mexico and eventually worked as a dishwasher/porter for Chef Wylie Dufresne at wd~50 and Alder. Through constant hard work, he rose up the ranks of the kitchen and joined fellow wd~50 alum Simone Tong at her restaurant Little Tong as Sous Chef. All the while, for 18 years, Misael has been silently battling a life-threatening disease and will need neurosurgery next week to fight it.
“For years he’s poured his sweat, blood, (though no tears) into the work that he does. He has always been the one to say the least while doing the most, asking for very little while giving generously,” wrote Little Tong. It’s unfortunate that someone who works so hard and gives so much of himself must still rely on the support of friends, even strangers, to get such a necessary surgery.
At this critical time, it brings us no greater honor, but also no more acute heartache, to give back to someone who has given so much. ~ Little Tong Noodle Shop
The Family Meal event is an all-you-can eat and drink buffet this Saturday the 14th and Sunday the 15th from 6:00 to 11:00 pm at Little Tong’s location in the East Village [177 1st Avenue]. Food and drinks will be provided by Little Tong and members of the Little Tong “family,” including Du’s Donut’s, OKA, Bonbite, World of Sake, Cosme, Skurnik Wines, and SEA Market. This also includes dishes that Misael makes for Little Tong’s private family meals, the food made just for staff (trust me, it’s worth it!). We sincerely hope you show your support, one way or another, so we can share great food and wish Misael the best together.
Tickets and more info can be found at Little Tong’s website. 100% of the proceeds go to Misael’s surgery. And, if you can’t make it, you can still help by donating to his GoFundMe page!
Thanks from everyone at Little Tong and CulEpi!
Liya Cui is a CulEpi intern and a recent writing graduate from Eugene Lang College at The New School. She’s been a server for the past seven years, starting as a 14-year-old at her parents’ restaurant back home in Birmingham, Alabama. Liya has also written for Her Campus, The New School Free Press, and Eleven and a Half Literary Journal.