Seattle star chef Renee Erickson will close Bar Melusine on January 20 to sponsor a party to “fight hate,” raising money for the Anti-Defamation League. She’s urging chefs across the city and the nation to join her.
James Beard award–winning chef Renee Erickson has written a plea to the restaurant community of Seattle and beyond on the occasion of Donald Trump’s impending presidential inauguration, imploring, “I have to do something, and I hope you will join me.”
Erickson’s plan is to close her Bar Melusine on January 20, Inauguration Day, to host, at her own expense, a party soliciting donations for the Anti-Defamation League. She echoed the League’s current entreaty to “fight hate: there is no them, only us,” continuing in her own words, “Us, people who care about other Americans; us, people who try to find understanding and kindness when working with and serving others; us, a community of all races, religion, and sexual orientation.”
She’s since elaborated that she’s encouraging “chefs from all over the country” to join her. In the email, she suggests that on January 20, others could close their restaurants to host such parties of their own, use a communal table to host an ADL fundraiser dinner, “have proceeds, profits, or some percentage of sales that day given to ADL to help combat hate and create a community of inclusion,” or “come up with something that feels right” to them.
Erickson plans to invite approximately 300 people to her Bar Melusine party over the course of the evening, saying it “could get crazy, but that should be fun, too.”
Her email to the restaurant community gives an emotional accounting of her experience with the recent election. “On Tuesday, November 8th of this year,” she writes, “I sat at home with my husband, my business partner, and my friends in disbelief with the rest of the world as state after state was called for a Donald Trump. Packing away what was planned to be celebratory Champagne, I cried. I couldn’t even begin to wrap my mind around Donald Trump as our next president.” She mentions that a sous chef brought her puppy to a staff meeting the next day, “to help lift our spirits.” Then she relates that on November 10, she cooked for a benefit for local nonprofit City Fruit with The Whale Wins chef de cuisine Marie Rutherford, then attended a benefit her company Sea Creatures held for a local dance center.
“That night, we danced,” Erickson writes. “Our staff and family were together and raising money for an arts organization that in the coming years is going to need support. It felt good to be a part of a community that day.
“Now, it is December, and every day… I worry about the executive office being filled with people that have no understanding of what the American public needs; I worry about the economy, the environment, and the growth of hate crimes… we want to help foster a UNITED States where all voices are heard and respected,” Erickson’s email says.
After sending her plea, Erickson said, “Hopefully, we can gather a bunch of us to do some good on a [expletive] day.”