Cooking for the Coast
When times are tough, your neighbors have your back
One of the hallmarks of being Southern is that we’re there for each other when it counts. We show up with flowers and casseroles when a new neighbor moves in or if a family suffers a loss. I saw this firsthand when my father-in-law passed away recently and home-cooked meals were delivered to us for a week. We’ve also had neighbors take care of our kids and our dog when emergencies have arisen, and we’ve returned the favor. It’s just what you do.
When Hurricanes Florence and Michael hit the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts last fall, this Southern tradition took on epic proportions. Church groups swung into action, offering food and shelter to thousands who had been displaced. The Cajun Navy, Louisiana volunteers with an armada of jon boats, showed up in North Carolina to rescue victims. In Florida, the pitmasters of Operation BBQ Relief smoked enough meat to serve over 800,000 meals, while Mercy Chefs filled 6,000 plates a day. Many others just opened up their homes, offering hot showers and meals to people who had nowhere to go.
We also wanted to do our part at Southern Living, so we hosted a fundraiser in Birmingham for World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit founded by chef José Andrés that served hundreds of thousands of meals to victims in North Carolina and Florida, as well as California. Sixteen of the best chefs in the South donated their time and talent to create a magical night, and we raised over $70,000 to keep the food coming during these and future disasters.