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James Beard Foundation spotlights Detroit restaurant Saffron de Twah

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

As national culinary arts organization James Beard Foundation gears up for its 2021 celebration broadcast late next month, it is taking time to shine a light on some restaurants and industry leaders that have made a difference during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

One of them is Saffron De Twah and chef and owner Omar Anani, who served more than 110,000 meals to Detroiters in need during the crisis through his community kitchen. In February 2020, the small Moroccan restaurant on Detroit's east side was the only local spot on the list of 30 semifinalists for Best New Restaurant. 

"The pandemic opened my eyes to another layer of hospitality that I didn't know existed," Anani said in the video, which also featured Detroit Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib. "We started creating these meal kits for displaced restaurant workers and then that led into frontline workers and then snowballed, during our peak we were serving 1,400 meals a day to people in need." 

The 2021 James Beard Foundation Awards celebration will be broadcast live via Twitter at 8 p.m. Sept. 27. Instead of the traditional awards show, it will be a salute to the independent restaurant community. Last year, the nonprofit announced it would undergo "an audit of policies and procedures in order to ensure a more transparent and equitable process for the future" and would return with awards in 2022. 

Saffron De Twah is temporarily closed for dine-in service due to renovations to install a patio, but does offer a monthly subscription service selling prepared meals or meal kits to cook at home. The restaurant is at 7636 Gratiot in Detroit. Visit for more information. 

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Twitter: @melodybaetens