ROCHESTER N.Y. (WROC) — POP ROC Owner Jason Hilton and staff hold a monthly event known as the chef challenge, all for the benefit of their community.

“We invite chefs from all over town to come and cook a meal for us,” Hilton said. “They get access to the kitchen commissary which is over at the Mercantile on main. They get awesome stuff to cook the meal with and they bring it over to us hot, fresh, and ready to go, and then we serve it to our community.”

He says there are a couple of reasons why this event was created.

“During the pandemic my wife and our children became homeless and we had to eat out of food cupboards, soup kitchens to provide for our family and so that was tough for us and the lord told us if we ever had the opportunity to reopen our restaurant we needed to serve free food to people,” Hilton said.

Additionally, he says started to volunteer at a soup kitchen that would prepare food with what they received as donations. Every day was a challenge to create meals out of what they had and that’s what sparked the idea for the chef challenge.

“We invite chefs in and we give them a secret ingredient that’s donated to us and we say you got one week to figure it out,” Hilton said.

The chef of the event Terrell Mclean, who is also the owner of Bubby’s BBQ in Rochester, was up since 4 a.m. preparing food but shared it was all worth it.

“It makes me feel good, as long as I can put a smile on somebody’s face with some good food and definitely good soul food and barbecue because barbecue makes everybody happy,” Mclean said.

Hilton says this is an event for anyone with an empty stomach

“This isn’t for the homeless, it’s not for poor people. This is for our community and in our community, there are people that are homeless, there are people that are needy, there are also CEOs of companies up there that need communities that are isolated and nothing in my opinion brings people out better than good food,” Hilton said.

The event is first come first served and Hilton says it typically takes place around the last Friday of every month. To stay up to date on more events visit their website poprochester.com.