Washington’s hospitality industry quickly stepped up to help after Russia violently invaded Ukraine, with bars and restaurants actively fundraising for refugee and relief efforts. Now some of the biggest names in the chef community are banding together for a #ChefsForUkraine fundraising dinner on Monday, March 21 at Wharf restaurant Moon Rabbit. It’s organized by Chefs Stopping AAPI Hate (CSAH).
All proceeds from ticket sales—the dinner is $500 per person, plus a $200 optional wine pairing—will be donated to José Andrés’s World Central Kitchen relief efforts on the Ukraine border; currently the chef and nonprofit are on the front lines there preparing meals for refugees and others who have been afflicted.
“Like everyone else, we were wondering what we can do to help,” says Lucky Danger chef Tim Ma, who co-founded CSAH with Moon Rabbit’s Kevin Tien. Though the organization launched to spread awareness about anti-Asian hate crimes and racism last March, it has grown—both in size, nationally, and scope—to fundraise for causes outside the AAPI community. Recently, it held a dinner for Afghan refugees.
“Kevin is from a refugee family, and when this happens—whether in Afghanistan or Ukraine—it really hits home,” Ma says. “These communities are just like us.”
The lineup of chefs and restaurateurs is impressive, and includes a number of Michelin-starred talents who are rarely seen at events outside their own restaurants. A ten-course dinner will be prepared by Aaron Silverman (Rose’s Luxury and Little Pearl); Ryan Ratino (Bresca and Jont); Yuan Tang (Rooster & Owl); Brittanny Anderson (Leni); Jon Sybert (Tail Up Goat and Reveler’s Hour); executive chef Pepe Moncayo and pastry chef Gregory Baumgartner (Cranes); Ma and Tien; and Maketto’s Erik Bruner-Yang, who left yesterday to join World Central Kitchen’s efforts in Ukraine. New to the lineup is Danny Lledó of Michelin-starred Spanish spot Xiquet. Rose Previte, owner of Maydan and Compass Rose, is providing the wine pairings.
While the effort “quickly snowballed,” according to Ma, they’re still evolving the event, and hoping to attract corporate sponsors to match donations. Reservations, limited to 120 guests, for the 6:30 PM event are slated to go live on Friday; check CSAH Instagram and website for information.
This is just the start of a busy season for the organization, which raised over $200,000 for AAPI organizations during a takeout dinner series last year. With significant contributions, including a $10,000 donation from DC Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office, they’ve hired a new executive director, Pamela Yee, and are in the process of securing 501c3 nonprofit status.
“Right now we’re responding to the crises that happen,” says Ma. “We’re still trying to build up our organization. Hopefully get to the point where we’re proactive instead of reactive.”