Disturbed by civil unrest and the unjust killing of Black and brown people and inspired by protestors and communities stepping up to fight social injustice, Chef Rasheeda McCallum used her love of food and passion for justice to found the Black Chef Movement.
The Black Chef Movement works to create a network of Black and brown chefs together to provide healthy and nourishing meals to protesters and those on the frontlines of social justice. In just a short amount of time, they have grown to include nearly 100 volunteers and have fed thousands of protesters and families across New York City. Today, we spoke with C-CAP Alumni and BCM’s Director of Events and Community Outreach, Angie Kingston, about the incredible work she’s doing and how you can support the movement.
What were you doing before your current role at Black Chef Movement?
Before my current role at BCM, I was actively catering dinner parties and various other events with my catering company Thymeless Catering. My business partner, Christina and I co-founded Thymeless in 2018, and have been consistently working to expand since. I was additionally working front of house for Charlie Palmer Group and Constellation Culinary Group. Like most New Yorkers, you need multiple hustles right!
How did you first learn about BCM and what was the catalyst for joining?
I learned about BCM via my friends Kayla’s Instagram back in June. The post caught my attention IMMEDIATELY, and I sent an email to get more information. After finding out Rasheeda was one of the founders, I knew it was going to be the beginning of something great, we have history; we all attended Johnson & Wales University together. Prior to seeing the call for Black chefs from BCM I had already felt the urge to go out and support the BLM protest in some capacity, I just had not figured out how, after all, we are amidst a global pandemic that I am also trying to wrap my mind around. But when I saw this call to action, it was perfect timing and felt so right as cooking and feeding others is what I’d consider a calling of mine. I was excited that I could join forces with a group of Black chefs that I knew, who had the same goal in mind.
Tell us about your role with BCM – what are your main responsibilities and objectives?
I’m currently the Director of Events and Community Outreach. I manage, direct, and approve the day-to-day events that BCM supports. Our events do include feeding protesters and supporting inner-city neighborhood events which uplift the Black and brown communities. We also help to uplift our communities by preparing foods for underprivileged kids in the Bronx, feeding frontline workers impacted by COVID, and we recently have supported voter registration events. From inception to execution, myself and my AMAZING team ensure that we can gather the volunteer support and resources to be able to sufficiently fuel each action. In addition, I continue to prepare and provide food and snacks for the events we support. While at events, I am scouting other BIPOC and Ally organizations with similar mission objectives to that of BCM to potentially partner with. Being a nonprofit organization, our connections and network of sponsors are a major part of what keeps us running, so I am always scouting and recruiting additional sources to continue to broaden our network.
During your time with BCM, tell us about a moment that has been the most eye-opening.
One of the first movements I attended with BCM, we had prepared food and set up shop in Bryant Park however, the PD diverted the protest in a different direction, and the protesters were no longer passing by the park. Once getting some intel, Rasheeda rounded us up and we headed to McCarren Park to feed/aid protesters doing a sit-in followed by a rally and bike ride. Many people came up to the table, inquired, took food and had a conversation with us, adequately thanked us; and that in itself was so gratifying. But then a visibly exhausted Black woman approached the table, she expressed that she had been protesting all day and heavily active in the injustice fight and was hungry. We explained who we were and offered her food and water. She continuously expressed her gratitude for our organization and called us heaven sent. In particular, this woman looked about the age of my mother and had some slight resemblance to my mom as well. I looked at her and couldn’t help but think that she is probably the mother of a Black child, fighting, protesting, and advocating for a better life for her son or daughter, and the work I was doing helped make her job just a bit easier. Whether a mother or not, I was helping a woman that looked like me, create a legacy for another generation of children who look like me, and that just felt so right.
Can you give our readers some recommendations for safely protesting this fall and winter?
Firstly, bundle up! (haha) but seriously It’s going to be cold, but the fight must continue! In addition, always bring a friend, just in case things get hectic. And lastly, check social media to track what’s going on. Our favorite page to check is the @justiceforgeorgenyc Instagram page. Ensure you have sufficient power on your phones, preferably hot beverages to stay hydrated (AND WARM) and a snack or two for the long haul, or at least until you bump into BCM somewhere along the way!
We understand BCM is searching for a permanent kitchen space. If our readers have a lead or recommendation, who should they contact?
Please contact our Executive Director Rasheeda McCallum at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How can our readers sign up to Volunteer, Chef Volunteer or donate food?
We truly need a team of committed volunteers to keep this movement going. If you have time, please donate it by tabling with us. If you have extra food or funds at home, please email email@example.com to see how you can donate. You can also visit our website blackchefmovement.org for more information.
We’re always in need of nutrient-rich food. We like to prepare ready-to-go foods and snacks that folks can grab while protesting like wraps, trail mix, fresh fruit, and granola bars. We also plan to do community food drives; where non-perishable donations would be amazingly helpful as well.
Lastly, what are you cooking and reading these days?
I am cooking a little bit of EVERYTHING these days. I am also an online culinary teacher, so while I’m teaching my students I am re-teaching myself a lot! I think I may have found a bit deeper of a love for baking now (the love for eating baked goods was always way larger than the love of baking itself) that I have to teach how to bake, I have been doing tons of cookies, breads, cakes. So much better than the store-bought stuff. I’ve been digging into the cookbook “How To Cook Everything” by Mark Bittman for great refreshers for my curriculum, and a hefty amount of “The Food Bible” while I play with fusion flavors for the catering business. All of my blog/news source interest as of late has been in the realm of equal justice/BIPOC/Community-related and food injustice organizations to be kept abreast of what actions/movements are happening in the community.