Local chefs serve up solidarity to support Chicago’s immigrants


James Tsidiritis

Solidarity Soup

By Ariel Parrella-Aureli. Arts & Culture Editor

When native Chicagoan and chef Bruce Sherman saw how President Donald Trump’s administration has been treating immigrants and minorities, he could not sit idly by. He had to do something to stand up for those in need.

“I was very troubled by what was going on in our community [and] in the country as a whole and concerned for the greater reputation or future of the country,” said Sherman, chef at North Pond Restaurant in Lincoln Park.

Sherman created Solidarity Soup, a local campaign to support immigrant rights, which has enlisted the talents of some top Chicago chefs and restaurants. The campaign’s mission is to “show our solidarity with the immigrants who form the backbone of our restaurants and the fabric of our communities—those suddenly and unjustly singled out for their countries of origin,” according to the campaign’s website. 

For a minimum $50 donation, people will receive two pints of soup March 7 to pick up at one of three locations in Chicago made by one of the 19 partnering chefs, such as Paul Fehribach of Big Jones, Phillip Foss of EL Ideas and Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark of Parachute, who are all semifinalists in the 2017 restaurant James Beard Awards. 

Sherman said supporting the immigrant community is critical to the restaurant industry, especially given the successful Chicago restaurant scene and its reliance on these employees. 

“Part of our responsibility is to be sensitive to what is going on around us and not only try and capture people’s attention to get their butts and feet to pay the bills, but to use it as a sounding board to let people know what is going on and what they might pay attention to,” he said. 

The campaign runs until March 1, and Sherman said it has already received significant donations from the community that he said will allow the campaign to maximize its impact. The donations will go to three local nonprofits—Centro Romero, Immigrant Workers’ Project and the Southwest Organizing Project—that areactively working with immigrants.

Imelda Salazar, organizer of the Southwest Organizing Project, said volunteering time and money is needed to help the organization and the immigrants it serves. She added the donations will be put toward arranging for immigration law attorneys to conduct emergency legal screenings, helping people apply for the citizenship test and providing a stipend for outreach coordinators. 

“The purpose of the money we get is also to get community navigators to do outreach [in religious institutions] and tell people about their rights,” Salazar said. 

Chefs Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark of Avondale’s Parachute restaurant said they are proud supporters of Solidarity Soup and will be making a vegetable Tom Kha soup for the campaign. Kim, the daughter of immigrants, said Parachute would not be successful without its hard-working and dedicated immigrant employees. 

“They are part of the fabric of our American culture and especially being in the restaurant business, we could not operate without immigrants,” Kim said. 

The chefs said seeing this amount of diversity in the workforce and in society is what makes America the freedom land that it is.

“We see the successes and the pain that people go through—from the richest to the poorest and most poverty-stricken,” Clark said. “I don’t know if every industry you get to see [is] up close and personal.”