by Steven Doyle
What started as a call of concern between Alice Laussade and Andrea Grimes, both of whom worked for the Dallas Observer, took a spin for the gallant as the message of concern of this weekend’s detainees and the nearly 30 attorneys at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. These people needed to be fed.
An eventual call to Amy Cowan, owner of Oddfellows in Oak Cliff and to her chef Anastacia Quinones started the wheels in motion for an operation that lasted a good part of a Sunday afternoon during an extremely busy brunch service at their restaurant.
photo courtesy of Ron Ruggless
Quinones began messaging her chef friends for a call to action, and step up they did. The plan was to make 50 to 80 box lunches to feed the volunteer attorneys, but this took on an even greater turn once a small band of chefs were involved.
The group included Uno Immanivong (Chino Chinatown), Janice Provost (Parigi), David Pena (Braindead Brewing), Casie Caldwell (Kitchen LTO), and Luis Olvera (Trompo). Jay Jerrier from Cane Rosso also stepped in with a donated twenty pizzas, and Katherine Clapner was one scene with pastries. Jennifer Uygur owner of Lucia and chef Jeanna Johnson were also key players in the effort.
This was an amazing band of chefs doing only what they best know to do, feed hungry people in need. Cowan’s young daughter pitched in as well writing notes of encouragement to the families who had now been at the airport for many hours with no release in sight. Cowan spent the morning gathering the food from the many chefs and she and Quinones were off to the airport for their relief effort.
Arriving at the airport Quinones said she was overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by the mass of people, not only those detained but the more than 3,000 protestors whose goal was to have the legal immigrants released. The voices that cried out, the many children crying, the people singing and clapping moved Quinones to tears herself.
As they made their way through the crowd, they were passing out the boxed lunches, and warm chocolate chip cookies provided by chef Pena. Quinones spotted a young girl asking for her grandmother to be freed. Then the crowd starting chanting for the grandmother along with this child.
To reach the attorneys, who were held up at the Hyatt, Quinones said they had to sneak the food in purses and backpacks as the food wasn’t allowed into the hotel. These were the same attorneys working for freedom and not allowed to speak to the detainees. This was all exhausting and emotional for all.
In all, the group of Dallas chefs fed over 500 people, exceed their goal of 50 to 80. This is due to the outpouring of love that these chefs express on a nearly daily basis. With the many fundraisers and often unnoticed donations our chefs provide food and services to so many families each year.
“People are saying thanks and they’re proud, but for me this was personal. My parents were immigrants. They became citizens long ago, but I can’t imagine if I was a young child at the airport begging to see my parents. It just felt like the right thing to do. Not as a chef, or a human being, but as a daughter of immigrants. I don’t have access to legal advice, but I do have amazing friends who happen to be chefs who have access to amazing food,” Quinones told us.
These legal immigrants were detained on the heels of President Trump’s travel ban for an immediate suspension of immigration from seven countries with ties to terror for 90 days, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. The immigrants were eventually released Sunday evening.