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A Kiwi chef in New York City stands up for human rights…


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« on: February 12, 2017, 12:57:25 pm »


from Fairfax NZ....

Kiwi chef in New York makes ‘silent protest’
at Donald Trump's immigration policy


By MICHAEL DALY and BRIAR BABINGTON | 7:26PM - Tuesday, 07 February 2017

Kiwiana restaurant has reminded US customers of the value of immigrants using receipt stubs. — Photograph: Mary Emily O'Hara/Twitter.
Kiwiana restaurant has reminded US customers of the value of immigrants
using receipt stubs. — Photograph: Mary Emily O'Hara/Twitter.


FACED BY TOUGH TALK about immigration from the new US president, Mark Simmons — a Kiwi chef in New York — decided to make a “silent protest”.

He did that by putting a message on the receipts at his Kiwiana restaurant in Brooklyn. The message reads: “Immigrants make America great (they also cooked your food and served you today).”

Simmons said the message was a political statement. “I just wanted to remind ourselves and our customers that basically immigrants are the backbone of the hospitality industry. It was only 10 years ago I came here myself and started from scratch,” he said.

“I wanted to let my friends and customers know that's my stand, my silent protest. That's what I love about America, it's a place where freedom of speech is valued and respected.”

Simmons said he found President Donald Trump's immigration executive order, which temporarily banned travel to the US from seven Muslim-majority countries, “just a little alarming”.


Mark Simmons says this picture shows what his NewYork restuarant Kiwiana is all about. Dressed in a black apron with a silver fern, he's about to prepare a table full of New Zealand lamb. — Photograph: Kiwiana/Facebook.
Mark Simmons says this picture shows what his NewYork restuarant Kiwiana is all about.
Dressed in a black apron with a silver fern, he's about to prepare a table
full of New Zealand lamb. — Photograph: Kiwiana/Facebook.


New York City felt “really unsettled” at the moment and the conversations he had heard in the restaurant, many people seemed to be stunned about “that decision that Mr Trump made”, he said.

Simmons' multicultural staff had heritage from all over the world and he said the majority of the staff were first or second generation immigrants.

Simmons himself grew up on a Southland sheep farm and left New Zealand aged 17 in the late 1990s, first going to Australia and then onwards before reaching the US.

“New York city is a pretty awesome place to be,” he said.

The restaurant industry in the city was highly competitive and it was necessary to offer something different: “You have to have a unique perspective to keep your head above water,” he said.


Simmons' Kiwiana restaurant in Union Street, Brooklyn, New York. — Photograph: Google Earth.
Simmons' Kiwiana restaurant in Union Street, Brooklyn, New York.
 — Photograph: Google Earth.


Opening Kiwiana five years ago was scary and exciting. “It really galvanised my view on what I wanted to do.”

“Because a lot of people haven't heard of New Zealand you have to stand on that soapbox,” Simmons said.

“We do it by pouring some of the best wine in the world, having some of the best beer in the world, having tonnes of lamb and a hell of a lot of pavlovas.”

Smoked and pickled green lip mussels were one of the most popular items on the menu. “That was just a comfort food I grew up with,” Simmons said.

“We love what we do and we're very proud to fly the New Zealand flag.”


Chef Mark Simmons: “very proud to fly the New Zealand flag”. — Photograph: Kiwiana.
Chef Mark Simmons: “very proud to fly the New Zealand flag”. — Photograph: Kiwiana.

Despite his enjoyment of New York, Simmons is interested in the idea of retiring to New Zealand and is a staunch champion of Invercargill, describing it as the “most underrated city in the world”.

And he encouraged people back home to also not to treat people any differently because of their religious beliefs or their nationality.

“I think we should open our hearts and treat everyone equally and respect everyone,” he said.

There's been a great response to his receipt messages so far “and I'm humbled by it”, he said.

But is he worried about any backlash from the Trump Administration? Err, no. “I will not lose any sleep tonight.”


__________________________________________________________________________

Read more on this topic:

 • Foreigners who ‘love’ the US can come in, Donald Trump says, as Muslim ban battle heats up


http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/food-wine/89138149



from Fairfax NZ....

US-based Kiwi chef sees uptake in business since
political statement against Trump immigration ban


By BRIAR BABINGTON and REUTERS | 11:05AM - Sunday, 12 February 2017



A NEW ZEALAND CHEF chef working in New York says his restaurant has had a spike in business since a picture of his political silent protest went viral online.

Last week, Kiwi chef and former Southlander Mark Simmons made international headlines when a Twitter user posted a picture of a receipt she had from his Brooklyn restaurant Kiwiana.

The message at the bottom of the paper, which would usually have some of the restaurants specials on it, read: “Immigrants make America great (they also cooked your food and served you today).”

Dubbed a “silent protest” from the chef, Simmons had used the medium to support immigrants in the United States, especially his own staff who were all first or second generation migrants.

Since then, reservations at the restaurant had “spiked” and people from all over the world were sending him positive messages, he said.

“I think our website visits have increased by something like 16,000 percent,” he said.

Out and about in the restaurant, there had been comments from diners, but with the support also came some comments from people who did not agree with his stance.

“Not everyone agrees and that's ok,” he said.

There had been some backlash from people, who would send an email or “do something on the internet” to let Simmons know what they thought of his message, but the positive feedback had far outweighed the negative, he said.

“We've had people call up from Germany… from Turkey and from France and obviously from little old New Zealand as well,” he said.

Given the latest turn in events, where the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to uphold a temporary suspension of President Donald Trump's order that restricted travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, Simmons thought he might update the message on the receipts.

“Immigrants and the Supreme Court make America great,” he suggested.

“Or maybe I should do something from Once Were Warriors, maybe ‘Cook me some eggs’.”

The ruling from the 9th Circuit, which follows a hearing on the case on Tuesday, does not resolve the lawsuit, but relates instead to whether Trump's order should be suspended while litigation proceeds.

Two members of the three-judge panel that ruled were appointed by former Democratic Presidents Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama, and one was appointed by former President George W. Bush.

Either side could decide to appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.


• Additional reporting from REUTERS.

__________________________________________________________________________

Read more on this topic:

 • Kiwi restaurant in New York says immigrants ‘make America great’

 • A Kiwi's bite in the Big Apple


http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/food-wine/89164182
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