Chefs & Foodies
This Spanish-American chef has multiple wildly successful restaurants, stoking the popularity of avant-garde Spanish food, but is as widely known for his charitable work, providing meals for victims, hurricane after hurricane, and working towards more sustainable solutions to ending food insecurity and malnutrition with a nonprofit called World Central Kitchen
. He has also repeatedly made the case for immigration reform.
The pinnacle of difference-makers for ORFU’s founder was Anthony Bourdain. His emphasis on people and food, through food, is perfectly aligned with Our Recipe for Unity’s mission. Click through to our Bourdain tribute page
, which includes a selection of his best quotes and other related links and resources.
An immigrant from Vietnam, Chef Kwon has been involved in various successful restaurants on both coasts of the U.S. and in multiple charitable endeavors: sending a portion of his profits to support orphanages in Cambodia, and hiring formerly homeless people to learn new skills and work in his bistros.
This undocumented Mexican chef has become an American success story. Upon arrival in Philadelphia, she worked her way up in the restaurant business and, after being fired for being undocumented, began selling tacos from her apartment, then a street cart. Once she got a brick-and-mortar location, she relatively quickly earned national attention when Barbacoa was named #6 on the Bon Appétit list of America’s Best New Restaurants in 2016. With her husband and restaurant co-owner Ben Miller, she advocates for immigrant rights and reform, especially giving a voice to undocumented restaurant workers.
Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi are chefs, restaurateurs and cookbook authors who grew up in the Jewish west and Arab east of Jerusalem, respectively. Their cookbook Jerusalem: A Cookbook
features recipes inspired by the city, with Jewish, Muslim, and Christian influences. Ottolenghi has also supported peaceful, philanthropic causes in London.
Israeli-American chef and restaurateur Michael Solomonov is a James Beard Award winner and the perfect guide for the fascinating 2016 documentary film In Search of Israeli Cuisine (video trailer
), exploring 100+ diverse cultures (among them Jewish, Arab, Muslim, Christian, Druze) of Israel through food.
The chef and owner/founder of Momofuku Milk Bar works with the charity Hot Bread Kitchen
in NYC to help create food industry jobs for immigrants by providing connections and training. Hot Bread Kitchen also sells ethnically-influenced bread—Persian flatbreads, challah, tortillas—to help fund the program.
Chef/owner of the famous Massachusetts restaurant Blue Ginger, among others, and host of the public TV cooking show Simply Ming, Tsai has devoted much energy over the past decade to a charity called Family Reach
, which he says has shown him a hidden financial crisis that no one talks about: “the financial toxicity of cancer.” To date, he has raised more than 6 million dollars for Family Reach through various events including the annual Cooking Live!, featuring celebrity chefs preparing a multi-course meal live in the Ritz-Carlton ballroom with the help of young cancer patients playing sous-chef for a night while sharing their inspiring stories.
Politicians & Government Leaders
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
U.S. Senator Cory Booker
In an interview with On Being, on Civic Spiritual Evolution
, Booker says: “This is a time where our country needs a more courageous love, needs a more daring empathy. This is really a moment where we’re gonna define our culture, I think, in the next generation, and that word, ‘sacred,’ to me, is what is needed now, this understanding that these are sacred spaces between us, and they need to be fueled and injected with an unapologetic, courageous, daring love.”
In 2009, with the help of 23 fifth graders from a nearby school, America’s 44th First Lady broke ground on the largest vegetable garden ever on the White House lawn in an effort to promote healthy eating. She later published American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America
. While in the White House, she and President Obama volunteered at local homeless shelters and soup kitchens. She also established a Let’s Move fitness program, leadership and mentoring programs for girls and women, and a girl-focused education charity. And of course, as she eloquently addressed the 2016 Democratic Convention, she made famous the admonition, “When they go low, we go high.”
And more civility -- between two congressmen in Texas. Some time ago, these two rising stars of rival parties found themselves stranded in San Antonio by a blizzard back in Washington DC. They decided to rent a car and drive, bonding over the 1,600-mile road trip and sharing hours of conversation over Facebook Live about their views on some of the nation’s most divisive issues. Subsequently, they were awarded the 2018 Prize for Civility in Public Life
, presented annually since 2012 by Allegheny College to “honor two public figures, one liberal and one conservative, who argue passionately but with civility for their beliefs."
Reverend Barber is a pastor, a speaker, a professor, an author, and a political organizer and commentator. Among his most noteworthy recent speeches and political actions were his address at the 2016 Democratic National Convention and the Forward Together Moral Movement that he built to call people to protest and implore North Carolina’s elected officials to embrace a moral public policy agenda. He has served as president of the North Carolina NAACP and sits on the NAACP’s national board.
Also known as the award-winning hip hop artist J.Kwest, Rev. DeShazier is also a pastor, professor, actor and speaker. He is a public health advocate in Chicago, where his University Church creates “a safe space for believers, seekers, and doubters” and fights for justice. See his post on Pushing Boundaries in a Culture of Outrage
Dr. Robyn is a PhD, queer activist, Latinx scholar, and public theologian who speaks and writes on the topic of bridging differences between faith communities, justice movements, and academia. Dr. Robyn’s pastoral response to the Charlottesville protests called “for a diverse and multigenerational movement to combat white supermacy” (American Progress Feb 8, 2018).
Rev. Jeania Ree V. Moore
“A UMC deacon who is ensconced in the world of faith-based advocacy and organizing,” Rev. Moore serves The United Methodist Church’s social justice agency in Washington, DC as director for civil and human rights, working on immigration, gun violence protection, and criminal justice reform.
Bishop Seitz, leader of the Roman Catholic Diocese of El Paso, TX, is a major DACA supporter and advocate for immigrant rights, including the protection of undocumented immigrants from unjust and inhumane family separation and deportation policies. He has spoken to Congress, marched, and preached on these topics. “In my ministry as a bishop on the border, I have seen how the aspirations and hard work of Dreamers have renewed everyone’s faith in the American dream.” (El Paso Times, Mar 7, 2018)
Dr. Singh is an educator, writer and activist. He studies race and religion and their impacts on Islamophobia, xenophobia, and hate crimes, and works to create understanding around communities of color and to promote civil rights, diversity, and religious tolerance. He represents Sikhs on NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Interfaith Advisory Council.
Rabbi Dr. Andrea L. Weiss
Rabbi Dr. Weiss is a faith leader in the social justice movement, an author and an associate professor. Following the 2016 elections, she launched a campaign to enlist 100 religious scholars to write letters expressing “guidance, inspiration and reaffirmation of what it means to be an American.’ You can read some of the wisdom gathered through that campaign here: @ValuesandVoices
on Twitter and @ValuesandVoices on Facebook
Celebrities & Pop Culture Icons
Jon Bon Jovi
In late 2011, Jon Bon Jovi opened an eatery with a mission: a community restaurant where “dignity and respect are always on the menu” and patrons pay what they can. Donations and dishwashing help keep food on the table at JBJ Soul Kitchen
, in Red Bank, NJ, near Bon Jovi’s hometown.
At her funeral, Barack and Michelle Obama said, “In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade—our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. She helped us feel more connected to each other, more hopeful, more human.” (Rolling Stone Aug 16, 2018)
This longtime foodie, actress and now Duchess of Sussex as Prince Harry’s wife chose as her first official royal project a charity cookbook
, Together: Our Community Cookbook
, with and for the victims of the tragic Grenfell apartment building fire back in 2017. The Royal tweet about the project said the cookbook “celebrates the power of cooking to bring communities together. #CookTogether” Says Meghan: “Together is a cookbook but it’s also the story of a West London community who gathered together in a kitchen and discovered the healing power of food.”
Also, see our Twitter account and other social media pages for a taste of the influences we like to indulge in regularly for ideas and inspiration. (And, please, feel free to comment and add your own suggestions!)