Friday, October 21, 2011
Zucchini At Zuccotti
Protest mob is enjoying rich diet
By REBECCA ROSENBERG
October 19, 2011
They may sleep in the park, but they eat like kings.
Hundreds of grimy protesters laying siege to Wall Street and stuffed into the now-smelly Zuccotti Park dine each night on gourmet meals prepared by a former hotel chef using only the finest organic ingredients.
“We’re running a five-star restaurant down there,’’ crowed Eric Smith, 38, the ex-le Chef de Tournant at the Sheraton in Midtown, who works out of a soup kitchen in East New York, Brooklyn, churning out the meals for more than 1,000 protesters every day.
“The other day, we made some wonderful salmon cakes with dill sauce and some quinoa salad and a wonderful tomato salad with fennel and red onion,’’ he said.
“We use organic, grass-fed meats, and the other day, we made a wonderful fried rice and root vegetables and all kinds of soup.”
So last night, for example, while your family of four may have been forced to resort to Hamburger Helper, thanks to Smith’s culinary magic, hordes of Occupy Wall Street protesters instead feasted on organic chicken, spaghetti Bolognese, roasted beet and sheep’s milk-cheese salad and wild heirloom potatoes.
Most of the produce, grass-fed meat and organic chicken is donated from small organic farms upstate, including Northland Sheep Dairy, West Haven Farm and Wide Awake Bakery in Ithaca, and several farms in Connecticut and Vermont.
When food is ready for the protesters, a driver collects crates from each of the cooperative farms and drives to New York City with a truckload of goodies.
Smith, a 20-year culinary veteran, said he used to oversee banquets that fed more than 1,000 at a luxurious hotel -- until he was laid off last year.
He has since turned to catering and teaching to pay the bills, but volunteered at the protests.
At the beginning, the group did much of its cooking in people’s homes.
“Then, we had the ‘99 percent’ march on the Brooklyn Bridge, and there were so many people after that it wasn’t realistic to cook in private homes anymore,” said Heather Squire, 31, an unemployed, off-site kitchen coordinator from Williamsburg.
“We knew we needed to increase our capacity,” she said. “We were reaching out to realtors, church groups, and anyone else we could find to lease space.”
Then, last Wednesday, Pastor Leo Karl, of Overcoming Love Ministries, an East New York soup kitchen, entered the picture, and offered his space for food preparation, organizers said.
“I support their needs, because I support anyone who has needs in New York,’’ Karl told The Post. “It’s a five-star soup kitchen.”
On Saturdays, when the protester ranks swell, up to 12 cooks stir the pots.
A driver then picks up the meals, and the food is served by 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday.
“It was so exciting that right at this moment of all this anxiety about how we’re going to feed all these people, someone stepped up to help,” Squire said.
“I couldn’t even believe how everything fell into place.”