Congressman David Jolly of Florida joins GSI and Mission Chef Neal Swidler serving up Gulf Seafood at NOAA’s Annual Fish Fry
Mission Chefs and Gulf Seafood Institute showcase Gulf Seafood at NOAA’s annual Fish Fry at the Department of Commerce.
Mission Chefs embraced this opportunity to raise awareness regarding our homeless communities at a federal level and to visit the DC Union Mission exposing fisheries leaders to the needs that many communities across the Unites States face.
Mission Chefs invited two of the original Mission Chefs, Chef Nathan Richard with King Creole and Chef Neal Swidler of Broussard’s in the French Quarter and the Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts to join in all the events.
The Chairman of the Gulf Seafood Institute and owner of Harlon’s LA Fish, Harlon Pearce, has walked the Hill with the seafood industry for over 20 years; however, this trip was something special. Mr. Pearce stated that, “Our visit to the DC Union Mission was the highlight of our trip. They gave us the grand tour and the homeless guests were incredibly welcoming and proud of the work the were doing through the Union’s programs.”
Mr. Pearce and other industry leaders had the chance to see another face of homelessness few see while driving or walking by casually. A main goal of Mission Chefs is to educate and show the human side of the issue. By partnering with GSI, leaders from the Gulf Seafood industry got that chance to see the impact a mission can have first hand providing those in need hope, skills and a new lease on life.
Zeid Ammari, COO and co-owner of Creole Cuisine Restaurant Group stepped up early on in supporting Mission Chefs. When this opportunity to visit DC was presented, once again he and his team of chefs just asked, “when are we going?” With over 14 restaurants in the heart of French Quarter and New Orleans area, his company understands all too well the need to help our homeless communities and our seafood communities.
“We see the challenges first hand literally on our streets and we also see the opportunity to be a part of the solution. Visiting the DC Union and walking the Hill meeting with and educating our Congressmen just gives us another layer of understanding to see how we can bring back what we learn and help our own community back home in New Orleans. “
Trent Verges, Marketing Director for Creole Cuisine Restaurant Group, saw this through the eyes of a marketing professional helping to raise awareness even further. “Seeing what another market does to help their homeless community and their culinary programs give us a perspective of how much impact we can have in our city, a food city. It makes us realize just how important it is to get the word out. Mission Chefs helps us do that locally in our market.”
Jim Gossen, Chairman of Sysco Louisiana Foods was totally taken back by the experience, “I am so glad I went to the DC Mission. Meeting these folks first hand you realize no one ever dreams of ending up in a mission or on the streets. It could happen to any of us. Seriously, I left there judging myself and being so grateful for the blessings in my life. Any of us could be that guy on the street. I was so impressed with the work the mission does to help provide hope.” He goes on to say, “We met with their head Chef who was at one time in his own right a successful chef in a previous life before life hit him so hard and he ended up on the streets. This place gave that man a chance and he’s back on his feet…helping others. I am so humbled.”
Mission Chef Nathan Richard commented, “I love helping to preserve our seafood resources. This trip gave me the opportunity to take that a step further…seeing a bigger picture and seeing how I can help be a bigger voice being where decisions are made in DC. Seeing the homeless issues DC and our city share, not enough human resources for restaurants, too many Vets on the street, and seeing solutions to how DC addresses those issues training the homeless to become chefs…we can learn a lot from each other.”
Cheryl Oliver, Senior Program Advisor for NOAA was glad to see Mission Chefs make it’s first appearance. “It was a pleasure to have GSI and the Mission Chefs there…front and center. Both chefs were pure joy to work with and experts at their craft!”