January 25th, 2021
Last summer, Duet partnered with Maru Los Angeles, a pop up style restaurant that was also started by a group of students at the University of Southern California. By providing an online cooking class, this was the fourth cooking class that Maru has done to raise money for a good cause. Hwoo Lee, a personal friend and the founder of Maru prepared via Zoom korean style short rib tacos. Our event was absolutely free, but gave the option to donate if any participants chose to. This was the most successful Zoom fundraiser that Maru had done so far and we were so happy to have had such a successful and exciting event!
Maru’s events have focused on bringing a diverse group of people together through its fine-dining tasting menus. Around the USC campus, Maru is a popular but exclusive social gathering that takes about 10 guests a week for their dinners. Each guest can sign up with one friend, but their goal is to get people chatting, bonding and eating with someone they don’t know. Hwoo Lee and his co chef Owen Han prepare an incredible multi course tasting dinner and let the guests enjoy. During COVID-19, Maru has taken a pause on operations to focus its efforts on raising donations through its Zoom Cooking Classes.
Within the few days leading up to our partner event, Pearl Keane, a core team member at Duet, and Hwoo Lee met via Instagram Live to talk about the event and get to answer any questions from our viewers. In this conversation, Hwoo explains the Korean style short rib tacos that we were planning to make and why he chose this dish specifically. As a fundraising event focused on our LA beneficiaries fighting job loss, food insecurity and even experiencing homelessness. Roy Choi is a Korean American chef who owns a prominent taco truck in Los Angeles “Kogi”. His truck has a special place in our LA hearts for celebrating his “food that isn’t fancy” as Roy Choi likes to describe it.
Attendance for the cooking class was incredible with families in their kitchens, friends cooking with significant others, and a full screen of happy faces once it was done. There were over 90 attendees with a total of $1324 raised in donations! All donations were optional as the class was completely free to attend so this was a great opportunity for both Duet and Maru to make a big impact. The zoom class had the screens of Hwoo Lee and Owen Han preparing the meal while talking us through every step in the recipe and taking questions from the chat function along the way. While waiting for a marinade to set, our Duet co-founder Michael Cesar got to introduce the new subscription feature to our donation platform. Just through a quick explanation of how this works we also managed to get a few subscribers to our Los Angeles meal donations. Before eating, we got a chance to thank our attendees, show off everyone’s delicious short rib tacos, and wish everyone a healthy and happy night. If you missed out on our event, it was all recorded and is on our YouTube channel!
The Zoom Cooking Class was the most successful fundraising event for both Duet and Maru Los Angeles and we hope to do more in the future! With limited availability for in person gatherings, Zoom gatherings have proven to be a great substitute for maintaining the personal connection between our team members and our past, present and future donors. We hope to partner with Maru, as well as other great organizations like them to continue helping those who need it. We proved we can do it right, so we’re ready to do it again. Look out for Hwoo’s famous Tik Tok food tutorials and for our next Maru x Duet event coming very soon!
~ Cayman, Chief Blogger