Bringing good food—and charitable work—to the table

For Chef Tony Villanueva, partnering with Greens Do Good is just another way to connect food and community.

Chef Tony Villanueva has always connected food with love. He grew up on the lower east side of Manhattan, raised by a single mom who worked many jobs to make ends meet—but always made time for the family meal. As a child he would stand on a crate to reach the stove and soon his relatives were asking him to prepare meals. And on a trip to visit his mom at her cafeteria job, young Villanueva was enthralled by the energy in the kitchen and all the people working to prepare food.

Villanueva trained formally as a chef, and eventually joined Edgewood Country Club as Executive Chef. Villanueva was tasked with changing the culture of the country club by creating a new and inspiring dining service. He was up to the challenge: He revolutionized the business of country club dining by prioritizing the freshest ingredients and sourcing them locally whenever possible.

It’s no wonder, then, that Villanueva jumped at the chance to become involved with Greens Do Good, REED Next’s year-round hydroponic vertical farm that offers locally-grown, sustainable produce to local businesses, and puts profits back into programming and support for individuals with autism. He began getting weekly deliveries soon after we opened our doors—making him the first Chef Partner of Greens Do Good. “I saw the opportunity and I have the power to effect change,” he explains. “I believe in the mission of Greens Do Good and want to create a ripple effect that becomes a tidal wave.”

Chef Tony Villanueva believes and embraces the mission of the REED Foundation for Autism and Greens Do Good. “Everyone wants to do good but not everyone has direct access,” he says. Villanueva looks for direct access wherever he can find it; he’s not only involved in Greens Do Good, but also contributes his time, talents, and resources to other charitable organizations including CASA for Children of Essex County.

For Villanueva, sitting together and sharing a meal has always been an expression of love. And through his work with Greens Do Good, he’s shown that preparing the meal using fresh, locally-sourced and sustainable ingredients is one more important way to show you care.