Amid COVID-19 restaurant restrictions and with people mostly stuck in their homes, Feed The People has emerged in the Central District, combining food and community. The community kitchen now operates within Soulful Dishes at 18th and Yesler, owned by Jimaine Miller, “The Def Chef.” As Feed The People, Miller and a handful of local chefs are offering free meals to anyone in need.
“We just tell people to come knock on the door, and we ask them ‘How many?’ And I just make a box for them and off they go,” said chef Tarik Abdullah.
“All the food we’ve been getting has been donated from various restaurants, and people’s houses. We’ve been getting random stuff like a brisket from Woodshop BBQ. I made my own take on a pretty good sauce. I did a pulled brisket sandwich. I had a whole bunch of greens from Nurturing Roots Farms, and I made Cape Town Malala Sauce. I did stewed greens with that . . . Tomorrow I’m doing watermelon lemonade with a little bit of rosewater in it, and doing something with the beef, and then a chicken dish, and a couple veggie dishes. I’m doing parsnip soup. It’s kind of like Iron Chef, Chopped, for fun, just sitting around making dishes. We offer four dishes a day,” Abdullah said.
Soulful Dishes is still open for business, albeit via delivery app or walk up, as per COVID-19 protocol, with Feed The People sharing the space. “Miller [is] a really good friend of mine. We’ve known each other since we were 19,” said Abdullah. “He’s still open for business while I do the free meals, and the other chefs we have involved is Chef Ariel Bangs, she specializes in vegan, gluten-free cuisine. She’s handling sourcing seeds and soil that we’re going to add to the box. I think we’re starting that Wednesday. Then Chef Kryse [Panis] Martin, she’s working with me and Chef Kristi Brown, of That Brown Girl Cooks. It’s just a tight-knit crew. It just makes sense and we know what we’re doing.”
Abdullah himself has “over 30 years cooking experience between Seattle and LA. A little over 20 years working with kids, teaching cooking between Seattle and LA. I’ve been a community advocate of some sort for quite some time,” he said.
Feed The People is part of a larger movement of South Seattle restaurants and chefs who, since the mandated closures of dine-in restaurants, have turned to making free food for their communities. “Melissa kicked it all off,” Abdullah explained, citing the transformation of Melissa Miranda’s Musang restaurant into a community feed site. Other participating food projects, like That Brown Girl Cooks, and Guerilla Pizza, operate as the Seattle Community Kitchen Collective.
Feed The People is open from 10 AM to 6 PM, Monday through Friday, with a delivery window of 2 PM-4 PM, “mainly for the elders, and for those that can’t drive.” They also accept food donations at Soulful Dishes from 10 AM-6 PM. Monetary donations can be made through Abdullah’s Venmo: @Tarik-Abdullah.
The hope is for Feed The People to keep making community meals and outlast the COVID-19 crisis, Adbullah said, “We’re not gonna stop until we’re told to.”
Soulful Dishes and Feed the People is located at 1800 E Yesler Way. You can learn more at instagram.com/feedthepeopleseattle.
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