The People's Kitchen Logo
People’s Kitchen and Miss Ollie’s This New Year’s Eve
When Saqib Keval said he was developing the plan to launch The People’s Kitchen in Oakland. I was incredibly excited. He’d been talking to people in the community, friends, his colleagues at People’s Grocery and more for months about what it might look like, where it might happen, and how to create something that would have some depth of impact with those who participated.
The People’s Kitchen, which Saqib had already held in San Francisco and which he had shared in other cities, invites a group of Oakland area people to source, cook, host, and serve a community meal at a monthly “pay-what-you-can” restaurant. The organizers and guests use the process and the event to create and strengthen community, engage in political education and sharing, and connect participants to the cultural and political history of the food on their plates. Dancers, singers, and other artists perform and share as well. Most months, the event benefits a local social change or community organizing project. Occasionally, there are special fundraisers to keep The People's Kitchen going.
The event planner in me thought it sounded ambitious with a challenging financial model, but the vision and idea was quite entrancing. Community building and political learning with delicious food? Connect with and learn from cultural workers in the process? How could I resist?
This New Year’s Eve will be the fourth People’s Kitchen event in Oakland. If the others are any indicator, large sliding-scale community meals with food folks, community groups, and cultural workers are not only possible, they are incredibly fun. At each of the People’s Kitchen events, I have learned new recipes, developed a deeper understanding of the breadth of the story of how both colonization and migration shape food systems, and made friends. I love it and have been proud to be helping as a server, cook, or planner for the various events.
I’m also in love with this particular and evolving model of social engagement and social change work. Occasional fundraisers that are deeply connected to the work help the event keep happening. The first, a fundraiser at Betti Ono gallery, brought more than 100 people together, many of whom had shared a food story that was printed and shared with the group. We talked about our stories with the people near us and listened to theirs. Saqib and his family provided information and spoke about the history of the food we were eating - a perfect, delicious Indo-African meal.
The second and third events took place at Cosecha in Old
Oakland and benefitted People’s Grocery and the Filipino American Coalition for
Environmental Solidarity. More than 120
turned out for each of these events where the organizations helped cook the
food and planned programs of artists and speakers who both highlighted the
important work they are doing and talked about the food we were sharing. We talked about the farms and food justice organizations that grew the food, learned about people's personal connections to and history of food production both here in the Bay and in the Philipines and much much more.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the amazing quality of the meals we have shared at
these events. Chef Saqib can cook. Better yet, he can gather people around him
with a wide variety of experience in the kitchen and on the floor and work with
them to produce a delicious meal that is part of an important, memorable
experience. I count these meals among the very best I have ever had.
This New Year’s Eve, The People’s Kitchen is holding an exciting benefit dinner in partnership with Chef Sarah Kirnon and the team at her new restaurant, Miss Ollie’s. I'm excited to volunteer as a helper again and will join my husband and friends in the kitchen or on the floor once again. I know I'll make some new friends, learn more about the food in front of me, and enjoy a delicious meal envisioned by Chef Sarah and Chef Saqib.
Details for the dinner and New Year's Eve party are below. Come on out and join in the fun!
Old Year's Night with The People's Kitchen and Miss Ollie's
WHAT: Four-course New Year’s Eve dinner followed by DJs and dancing.
Proceeds benefit The People’s Kitchen
WHEN: 12/31 with seatings at 5:30 and 7:30. 7:30 seating is followed by a party with DJs, dancing, and Caribbean drinks from Miss Ollie’s mixologists
WHERE: Miss Ollie’s in Old Oakland at 901 Washington Street (94607)
Tickets must be pre-purchased at brownpapertickets.com.
5:30 - $30; 7:30 - $40 with party
Contact: Email Saqib Keval
Visit Miss Ollie's on Facebook