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March 15 2017

Chefs Against Trump: Want a Side of Politics with Your Entree?

by Charlotte Hays

A New York Times headline proclaims:

Chefs Struggle Over Whether to Serve Up Politics

As I expected, the chefs in the story were not struggling with whether they support President Trump or The Resistance but merely over just how much politics they can cram down the throats of customers without hurting the bottom line.

The article opens at a chefs' confab at the James Beard Foundation's Boot Camp for Policy and Change. Meredith Coulson is agonizing over whether to declare her family's restaurant a sanctuary restaurant:

Meredith Coulson of the White Gull Inn in Fish Creek, Wis., is deciding whether to affiliate her family’s lodge with the sanctuary restaurant movement, whose participants pledge to prohibit harassment based on factors like religion, sexual orientation or immigration status.

Still, one must remember which side one's bread is buttered on:

On the other hand, [Coulson] doesn’t want to alienate customers. “Fairness and equality don’t seem like they should be political,” she said. “But in the current climate, people who voted for Trump might feel personally attacked.”

There actually is a sanctuary restaurant movement, the Times reported:

Sanctuary restaurants are not like sanctuary cities, which have laws to protect undocumented immigrants. Joining the sanctuary restaurant movement doesn’t mean much more than taking a pledge to prohibit harassment based on factors like religion, sexual orientation or immigration status.

The South Beach Wine and Food Festival held a tribute to Jose Andres, now all the rage as he became embroiled in a legal dispute with President Trump as a result of Andres' pulling out of an agreement to open a restaurant in the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Andres has become "a charismatic leader in the restaurant industry's battle over immigration," which was very much on the menu in South Beach:

For the first time, the South Beach festival held a panel titled “Politics Do Belong at the Dinner Table,” in which immigration dominated the discussion. One panelist, the chef and TV personality Andrew Zimmern, said he had received calls from employees in his production company asking if he could hide immigrants in his unused cabin in Minnesota. People are very fearful, he said, and may soon start leaving the country to avoid being picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers.

“This is going to hit Americans in their pocketbooks,” Mr. Zimmern said, “and start changing the tone of discourse in Washington very, very, very quickly.”

Farms and restaurants rely on a substantial number of the estimated eight million unauthorized immigrants working in the United States. The Pew Research Center estimates 12 percent of restaurant workers are undocumented. The Economic Policy Institute puts the figure closer to 16 percent.

A skeptic might call it the restaurant industry's battle for cheap labor, dressed up as concern over people who are here illegally.

Meanwhile, a trip to a politicized restaurant can be hard to stomach:

For Mary Lyski, declaring Double Comfort, her Southern restaurant in Columbus, Ohio, a sanctuary restaurant was no stretch: The restaurant already donates all of its profits to local food pantries.

But it was a problem for some customers, including a Trump supporter. “He felt he was being discriminated against by liberals, and I can’t blame him,” she said. “Everyone is so vocal and so mad right now.”

Through a series of emails, they came to a resolution. He ended his last email, Ms. Lyski said, by asking: “Will there still be a seat at the table for me? I promise not to wear anything Trump.”

In an atmosphere in which too many aspects of our lives have become politicized, I've lost track of who's boycotting what and don't intend to politicize purchases anyway unless the vendor has been particularly ugly, but, honestly, Trump supporter: Have you no pride?

 

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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