Support Chefs Who Support Immigrant Workers


Los Angeles’s participating chefs Photo: Courtesy of Ask Chefs Anything

Devorah Lev-Tov, a writer who covers food, among other things, surprisingly has not shown up in our pages before. I am happy to link to this particular story as a first. Food and agriculture have been central to this platform since we started it in 2011. Also, immigrants-r-us, so I appreciate the effort on their behalf as much as I appreciate the visibility it is receiving in a location surprising to me. Vogue is an unlikely publication for me to source from, but credit where due, a great story:

Ask Chefs Anything: Famous Foodies Are Auctioning Their Time in Support of Immigrant Workers

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the country and force businesses to shut down, among the hardest hit are immigrant workers—many of whom worked in the restaurant or other service industries. Now, they are left with no jobs and no unemployment benefits, struggling to put food on their plates and send money home to their families, while fearing getting sick without any support from the government.

In an effort to help them, dozens of famous chefs—including Alison Roman, Nancy Silverton, Tom Colicchio, Eric Ripert, Suzanne Goin, and Dominique Ansel—are auctioning off 30-minute virtual discussions where they will share recipes and cooking tips via a new initiative called Ask Chefs AnythingNew York City’s ended last week, Los Angeles’s auction is going on now through May 11, and Philadelphia’s takes place May 13 to 17, with more cities to follow.

“Honestly, in our business there is nothing more important to us then our staff, and so many people who work in this industry have immigrated to this country,” says chef and owner of Border Grill and Socalo, Susan Feniger, who is participating in the Los Angeles auction with her partner Mary Sue Milliken. Milliken adds, “We’re thrilled to do anything we can to support the migrant communities that are the backbone of our food system but are invisible and voiceless. This pandemic has exposed how deeply flawed our food system is and that we all need to pay better attention to artificially cheap food produced on the backs of underpaid workers with little or no employment benefits.”

The brainchild of Gaeleen Quinn and Anna Polonsky, two women with decades of experience in the hospitality industry, Ask Chefs Anything is an online auction taking place in multiple cities, with all proceeds going to help the vulnerable immigrant workforce. The funds raised will purchase groceries at a heavily discounted rate from Chefs Warehouse to supply 10-pound boxes of groceries to disadvantaged immigrant households via a local nonprofit. Quinn, who is from Colombia, created the annual Bogota Wine and Food Festival (which supports Escuela Taller de Bogota, where underprivileged young adults that were part of the Colombian civil war can learn cooking skills and find jobs) and runs Q&A, a hospitality consulting agency. Polonsky, who is originally from Paris, co-founded the MP Shift, a creative agency that is responsible for the concept, graphics, and interior design of some of the most stylish restaurants, like Ferris and Mimi Cheng’s in New York City, and Comice in Paris. In 2019, she left to start Polonsky and Friends to help restaurants work toward inclusivity, sustainability, craftsmanship, and wellness…

Read the whole story here.

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