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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The kitchen at occupy Oakland is mocking the city

I have been spending all my free time at the occupation of Oakland, recently. In addition, every day i bring with me an 8 gallon pot of hot soup and drop it off at the kitchen where the occupants, homeless and anyone who walks by that is hungry is offered a free meal.  As a chef, this is what i can offer to the occupation. Using leftover ingredients from my catering gigs along with donations from friends, clients and the occupation kitchen, i prepare hearty "peasant" style soups but from the finest local, organic ingredients. Same standards for ingredients apply as if i am catering a 125/person meal, the highest quality and only from small local farms and food purveyors.  Everyone has to eat, daily and we are doing a very small share of helping with the food needs at the occupation. The 8 gallon pot we bring disappears in an hour!
Yesterday for the first time, i did not drop off the soup and wander around but i stayed and served the pot to about 100 people. Quite a mix from some of the main organizers i have seen on stage to many of those i am seeing and meeting around the occupation as well as many homeless people and even a few that just got off work at one of the city buildings came by. The homeless have found a haven in the occupation with food, bathrooms and for the most part an environment that does not cast them out, completely.

It occurred to me yesterday, while i was dishing out some borscht a few feet away from the steps of city hall....the occupation kitchen is completely mocking the city and its approach to social services. Here we are, all volunteers, using all donated ingredients to prepare food for people and volunteers are dishing it out. No beaurocrats needed, nothing wasted. This is direct action! Food from farms and stores to cooks and chefs to the people.  There is a model to be looked at here, folks! It is working. True, it is a small scale but it is working and fairly efficiently.   This is democracy in action, everyone participating and creating and developing. I am blown away by the "free improvisation" nature of the occupation. Literally, much is being made up as it comes along.  And, so far, it is working.  Except for one "minor" glitch of police from 17 cities and counties showing up, last Tuesday and tearing the place apart, confiscating everything and wounding many in the process. However, anyone with half a brain can only see how the occupation grew from the police brutality. More people realized the importance for real change. This is not a joke, this is not some silly hope for change vote for a guy who is a moderate (i am being generous) who suddenly spoke like a progressive to get elected. This is direct action, directly taking responsibility for our future.  Me and my catering business will help feed the occupation as many days a week as possible. What are you doing to help or contribute?

One of the organizers who i see on stage often,  and who had 3 or 4 bowls of borscht, said, last night, "i do not know about all of you but i am going to just keep staying here and keep trying to create the closest thing to utopia as possible".   Very lofty goal to say the least. But it makes a lot more sense than doing nothing and allowing the status quo to remain or even, get worse.

Tomorrow the city of Oakland will try to take this to a whole new level with the first general strike to be called for in this country since 1946, when incidentally it happened in Oakland, as well.

A black flag is starting to rise in the city of Oakland.


  1. I believe everyone should have the right to be fed. I've been volunteering with Food Not Bombs in San Francisco for a few months now. We serve free vegan food at UN Plaza and other places throughout the city to whoever comes by. My weekly volunteer shift - cooking and serving - is the most important thing in my life right now.

  2. good post, and good work.

    let's see if the Occupation's preoccupation with the value and allocation of money can be offset with more humane values such as this.

  3. Besides the free kitchen, there are nurses, massage therapists, acupuncturists, yoga teachers and more offering free services at the occupation in Oakland. Anarchists are organizing in this town in ways that are rather stunning and beautiful to see and be part of

  4. Thank you for posting such a useful, impressive and a wicked article./Wow.. looking good!
    Kitchen Equipment