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After National TV Appearance, Noodle Tree Chef Will Distribute Surgical Masks to San Antonians 

click to enlarge Chef Mike Nguyen (right) shares a mask and a meal with a member of law enforcement. - INSTAGRAM / @NOODLETREETX
  • Instagram / @noodletreetx
  • Chef Mike Nguyen (right) shares a mask and a meal with a member of law enforcement.
San Antonio chef Mike Nguyen, who drew worldwide support for refusing to open his restaurant dining room last week despite a green light from Texas' governor, now says he'll donate surgical masks to keep customers safe.

Nguyen appeared on CNN last week — and spoke to the Current shortly before that — to explain that he opted not to reopen the dining room at his UTSA-area ramen shop out of concern for customer safety and his own health. Nguyen is battling cancer and recently lost a relative to COVID-19.

Following his CNN appearance, the chef received a delivery of 600 surgical masks and will share 100 of those — and lunch — with UTSA campus police, since university staff and students made up a great deal of his pre-pandemic guests. Nguyen will give away the remaining 500 masks to people who order bowls of ramen, which he's still offering via contactless takeout.

“By no means do I have the power to stop people from going out or shut anything down,” Nguyen told the Current. “But if I can help stop the spread I will. With all this support from the nation, I’m compelled to do something for the community, give back in a way that would benefit the city — and not just give [away] toilet paper.”

When Nguyen’s story broke, he never imagined he’d be receiving support from around the globe.

"People from all over have sent me care packages and essential stuff like hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and spray,” he explained. “For the most part, people have been super supportive and shown a lot of love.”

For the introverted chef, the attention has been overwhelming.

“I wasn’t initially going do the interview, because I’m a private person and going on national TV to talk about my sickness wasn’t an ideal thing for me,” he said. “But I realize that the message outweighs my personal comfort zone."

He added: "The economy will always come back. Those who lose their life to this virus ... they won't."

So many restaurants, so little time. Find out the latest San Antonio dining news with our Flavor Friday Newsletter.

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