On our mission to Stand Up, one insight we’ve gleaned is that all of us should be using whatever tools we have at our disposal to make a positive impact. LA chefs Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson use their platform as the critically-lauded chefs behind Madcapra and Kismet to make positive change. We talked with Kramer and Hymanson before they head down to Miami for our Chefs Stand Up dinner series at The Standard Spa, Miami Beach, to hear how the culinary community can rally around activism and the practices they’ve learned that we can incorporate into our own lives.
And if you want to Stand Up with them...Join them for their Chefs Stand Up dinner at The Standard Spa, Miami Beach on Wednesday, August 23rd at 8PM. 100% of proceeds are going to their charity of choice, Planned Parenthood. Get your ticket here.
Left: Sarah Hymanson, Right: Sara Kramer
Why did you choose Planned Parenthood as the charity for your Stand Up dinner?
SARAH HYMANSON: It's an organization that has a very broad reach. It's a direct action charity organization, so it's very tangible what services they provide. It provides reproductive services and basic health care in areas where individuals might not have any other options.
SARA KRAMER: It's a really important organization that provides really fundamental services to a wide variety of people. We feel really strongly about its need to stay funded and stay active.
Do you think chefs have a unique perspective or a special obligation to Stand Up?
SK: Chefs or anybody that has a platform that puts them in front of an audience has an obligation to stand for positive messaging in the world, because people listen to you. We have the opportunity for people to listen to us, so it's a moral imperative to use that wisely.
SH: It's really exciting that we have a space to provide a service that generates capital, and that capital can be used for good.
Are there other people in the culinary scene doing activism that you find inspiring?
SK: Definitely. I was just reading about Ovenly in New York, which is employing a lot of formerly incarcerated people and a certain number of people who fall under the poverty line.
What’s one event or moment that has specifically spurred you to action?
SH: The election certainly has been a wake up call, not that we didn't realize the country we live in, but it has certainly been a jarring realization of just what's out there, what is at risk.
How do you take action?
SK: Most of our action is through events. Not a lot of people have the power to host and provide a product, so I think we're in a really unique and valuable position in that regard.
Have you always been politically minded?
SK: Being a chef in the first place was really politically motivated. This is inherently a pretty political business because of all the choices you make about where your food comes from, who you employ, how you employ them, and how to create values in a work space. There are so many politically-driven decisions we make on a daily basis. It's always been something I've felt strongly about.
SH: Definitely for me, too. I think certainly as I've gotten older, I've come to understand the world in a different way. There are certain things that have always been a huge part of the restaurant industry and what I care about, like food sourcing and employment issues, and now there's so much more at play. We're trying to figure out a way to make the most impact with our platform.
Do you have any practices in place at your restaurants (Madcapra and Kismet) that you think other restaurants can utilize?
SK: We buy as much produce locally or sustainably as possible. That is a belief that we hold really dear that we will never stray from. We really encourage a positive and supportive work place, which is often not the case in restaurants. We want people to have the space to be who they are, not be perfect, and not be berated for it. Trying to build people up and support them in a regular, daily way is really important to us. We also recently implemented a composting system. We're trying to reduce food waste.
SH: We also have a service-included model, which is very important, in the hopes of trying to even the wage gap between the front and back of house to provide a more sustainable wage for kitchen employees.
SK: We also have all-gender bathrooms with non-specific signs.
Do you see cooking and sitting down for a meal as a potentially useful tool in uniting people?
SH: Definitely. We can provide a safe and comfortable space for people to be vulnerable.
SK: I think it's important for us to do things like this, because the more we can talk about our support of Planned Parenthood and why, the more that reverberates into the world, and the more that gets put out there, the better.