A Message from Chef Wayne Johnson: Milestones and BHM Reflections

February 12, 2021

It has been almost a year since FareStart closed its restaurant and cafes, put in-person programs on hold and pivoted our work to emergency meal production. Through all the obstacles, our team has produced over 2 million meals for our local communities.

I'm reflecting that we are in Black History Month. One year ago we had the first Soul of Seattle event in a building full of people celebrating, having great food and drinks and dancing the night away. 

This is a reminder to me how different things are this year. Most events, including Soul of Seattle, which is being supported with team Farestart, have gone virtual this year.

But it is deeper than that for me this year with the pandemic, systemic racism, people being laid off and small local restaurants struggling or closing.

Let us start with racism. Are we going backwards? These are the same peaceful protests we had in the fifties and sixties. It reminds me how Chef Leah Chase of Dooky Chase’s restaurant allowed civil rights marchers to use her restaurant to peacefully plan their course of action. These marches were for equality, and they are still the same marches today.

Equality is what the local chefs here in Seattle were looking for when the paycheck protection program checks were issued and many of the local Black chefs were left empty-handed, and had to find creative ways to keep their staff employed.

Soul of Seattle is back this year, thanks to Chef Edouardo of Salare, Lucinda Grain Bar and JuneBaby. This year’s event proceeds will benefit local Black restaurants and M.U.S.T. (Mentoring Urban Students and Teens). The event will offer opportunities to bid for auction items every day in February. There will be National Black Culinarians on a panel on February 12 and two virtual cooking demos on other Fridays. Yours truly will be hosting the virtual cooking demo on Friday, February 19. And don’t miss DJ Quest Love on Friday the 26. He will turn your living room into a virtual night club (BYOB)!

Remember we are still in the midst of the pandemic. Follow the CDC recommendations, wear your mask, wash your hands, watch your distance --- and reach out to make someone’s day.

Thank you, 
chefwaj