Oakland chefs cook for those in need on Thanksgiving's eve

With most charities focused on Thanksgiving meals, a group of chefs in Oakland wanted to make sure the community didn’t go hungry the day before the holiday.

Chef Leilani Baugh, owner of Roux and Vine, and Magnolia Street Wine Lounge & Kitchen, teamed up with a group of Black-owned business owners to prepare and hand out 250 plates of food on Wednesday. The to-go style dishes included smoked chicken, greens, mac and cheese, yams, and desserts.

“It is absolutely about giving from the heart and feeding the soul,” Baugh said. “The fact still remains our community needs to be fed and needs to be nourished, especially down here in West Oakland where so many community members are in a forgotten part of our city.”

The five chefs and one baker started cooking at midnight to ensure the food was fresh for the public. While other restaurants have struggled in the pandemic, these owners said they are doing well and wanted to give back.

“I couldn't live with myself tomorrow sitting at a table full of hot fresh food knowing someone is dealing with a food insecurity and didn't have the family or the funds or the necessity to cook their own meal,” Chris Taylor, owner of Chris Evans Events & Catering.

Brownie Sims and Princess Sims, two sisters who own a BBQ sauce company called The Final Sauce, said they brought out grill to smoke the chicken. They said not everyone can be with their families this year and they wanted to help.

A few community members also donated clothing for people to take with their meal.

“One guy said, ‘I needed a pair of socks.’ So now he's not only going to get a plate of food, he's going to get a pair of socks,” Brownie Sims said.

With so many people isolated during the pandemic, the chefs said they gladly be like family for a day to anyone who needs a warm meal.

“For me to be out here giving to people where I have been lucky and blessed, my heart is just overwhelmed,” Princess Sims said.

A person named Marshawn who received a plate of food simply told KTVU, “I’m excited. This is a blessing.”