In many ways, 2019 was the Year of the Immigrant. It’s hard to think of a time when stories of human migration and the desperate search for a better way of life so dominated the news landscape. You’d have to go all the way back to, oh, 2018 or, possibly, 2016 to recount the swell of such incidents – incidents often mired in tragedy and violence; when inhumanity quashed common decency; when bridges were razed in favor of fortified borders; and when the growls of populism drowned out the voices of tolerance.
The world of food was not immune. Restaurant owners were both targets of racism and accused of cultural appropriation. Issues of “authenticity” drove chefs to silence or got them into hotter water. (Like running a restaurant isn’t hard enough!) But food has a way of bringing us together. José Andrés, an outspoken critic of the current administration’s immigration policies, not only found a way to serve food in disaster zones through his World Central Kitchen, but managed to find the time to pop in to Orlando for the grand opening of Jaleo.