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Top Neighborhood Chefs Cooking Up 'Solidarity Soup' To Help Immigrants

By Ted Cox | February 15, 2017 5:31am | Updated on March 1, 2017 7:55am
 North Pond chef Bruce Sherman prepares soup at Green City Market.
North Pond chef Bruce Sherman prepares soup at Green City Market.
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North Pond

LINCOLN PARK — About 20 of Chicago's top neighborhood chefs are preparing to cook up pints of what they're calling "solidarity soup" in support of immigrants and refugees.

Pickup of the soup was set for Tuesday afternoon after a fundraising site collecting $50 contributions closed last week.

The fundraiser comes in the face of efforts to ban travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries and the government's promises to round up undocumented residents and build a wall on the Mexican border.

"It's a big issue for me, because I'm concerned about the country. I'm concerned about security. I'm concerned about the deterioration of everything we stand for," North Pond chef Bruce Sherman said. "Why is it a big issue for us as chefs? Because our city, community, industry are built on immigrants and refugees."

 North Pond chef Bruce Sherman is organizing the Solidarity Soup fundraiser to support immigrants.
North Pond chef Bruce Sherman is organizing the Solidarity Soup fundraiser to support immigrants.
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North Pond

Immigrants typically "come in through the doors of the food and beverage industry," whether working as food preparers, service staff or running their own restaurants, Sherman said. He is leading about 20 chefs in the fundraising effort.

"We commit to standing with immigrant communities in the fight to protect their dignity and human rights," a statement reads on the Solidarity Soup website. "Their presence among us makes us stronger."

Everyone who donated a minimum of $50 on the site ahead of last week's deadline can pick up 2 pints of soup prepared by two chefs from 3-7 p.m. Tuesday. There will be distribution points in Lincoln Park at North Pond, 2610 N. Cannon Drive, in Wicker Park at Big Star, 1531 N. Damen Ave., Downtown outside the French Market, 131 N. Clifton St., and in Evanston at Hewn Artisan Bread, 810 Dempster St.

Hewn and La Fournette Bakery will also be providing bread.

As of late February, the fundraiser was closing in on $15,000.

The roster of chefs ultimately grew to more than 20.

"The more the merrier," Sherman said. "The more money we can raise, the more we can help."

The campaign has designated three nonprofit organizations to benefit: the Immigrant Workers' Project, the Southwest Organizing Project and Centro Romero.

Sherman added that the campaign establishes a template for other fundraisers. 

Sherman said he had no trouble rounding up interested chefs from among the biggest names in the Chicago food industry.

"There was no hesitation on anybody's part," he said.

In addition to Sherman, of course, the chefs and their restaurants include:

• Rick Bayless, Frontera Grill

• Paul Fehribach, Big Jones

• Phillip Foss, EL Ideas

• Jason Hammel, Lula Cafe

• Stephanie Izard, Girl & the Goat

• Jean Joho, Everest

• Paul Kahan, Blackbird

• Beverly Kim & Johnny Clark, Parachute

• Josh Kulp & Christine Cikowski, Honey Butter Fried Chicken

• Eric Mansavage, Farmhouse

• Matthias Merges, Billy Sunday

• Josh Mutchnick, Longman & Eagle

• Carrie Nahabedian, Naha

• Chris Pandel, Balena

• Sarah Stegner, Prairie Grass Cafe

• Paul Virant, Vie

• Lee Wolen, Boka

• Andrew Zimmerman, Sepia

• John Manion, La Sirena Clandestina

• Bill Kim, Urbanbelly

Sherman said the type of soup the chefs prepare is "completely up to them. As far as I'm concerned, they can just drop the soups off, and I'll see what they made."

With that roster, however, those who make donations can count on getting something pretty decent in return.

"If it's that much of concern what kind of soups are being prepared," Sherman said, "then that's not the right crowd."