Blue House Organics, a new farm in Pemberton, B.C., and Cacao, a progressive Latin restaurant in Vancouver, are raising funds for Fundació Barriga Llena Corazón Contento (Full Belly, Happy Heart). The volunteer initiative led by several renowned South American chefs, including Carlos Garcia and Francisco Abenante, operates a daily soup kitchen at the Hospital JM de Los Ríos for children in strife-torn Caracas, Venezuela.
Blue House Organics will donate $1 from every $20 harvest box of fresh vegetables sold from now until the end of the growing season. Cacao, using vegetables from the farm, will donate full proceeds from a featured dish.
“We have all these beautiful vegetables growing on the farm and the people in my home country are starving,”
says Blue House Organics owner Alejandro J. Sucre, an economist and corporate turnaround specialist from Caracas, who continues to write a regular column for El Universal, a major Venezuelan newspaper.“This is a small gesture, but it is important that we do something to help the children.”
Cacao co-owner and executive chef Jefferson Alvarez, who is also Venezuelan and recently nominated for Canada’s Best New Restaurants by enRoute Magazine, says he is eager to help his chef friends back home – which is not as easy as it seems. Currently, there are no emergency appeals that would authorize the shipment of food and medicine from international humanitarian organizations.
“Right now, in Caracas, there are a lot of people eating from garbage bins in the streets,” says Carlos Garcia, chef-owner of Alto, one of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants in Latin America. “We’re doing the best we can to help the kids in the hospital and the doctors who treat them, because they don’t have anything to eat either. We make 250 bowls of chicken soup each day. And every day we hope that the country is going to change.” Each bowl of soup costs $1 to make, he estimates.
Cacao’s Venezuelan Freedom Salad, $10
Blue House Organics lettuce, kale, Swiss chard and cherry tomatoes, dressed with cacao nibs, berry scoby (kombucha culture) and chive oil.
*salad (mix will change with the crops as the farm heads into fall) will be available until mid-October
“To contribute to their partnership and fundraising efforts, entitled Venezuelan Freedom Veggies, simply purchase a Blue House Organics harvest boxes or book a table at Cacao.
“We don’t need much incentive to purchase farm fresh vegetables, but when we hear we can support a local farm, while assisting hungry children further afield, we’re even more motivated.”
ABOUT CACAO RESTAURANT
Cacao opened in September 2016 to five-star reviews and is now nominated for Canada’s Best New Restaurants by enRoute Magazine. With celebrated chefs Marcela Ramirez and Jefferson Alvarez at the helm, the Kitsilano kitchen represents a progressive philosophy toward Latin American cuisine that honours their roots with authentic flavours from Mexico and Venezuela. Cacao is open for lunch Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and dinner from 6:00 pm to 11:00 pm.
1898 W 1st Ave, Vancouver, BC, (604) 731–5370, cacaovancouver.com
ABOUT FUNDACIÓ BARRIGA LLENA CORAZÓN CONTENTO
Established in June 2016, the “Full Belly, Happy Heart” foundation has been making daily deliveries of hot, nutritious chicken soup to patients, their family members and staff (enough to feed 250 people) at the Hospital JM de Los Ríos for children in Caracas, Venezuela. The hospitality-industry collaboration, initiated by chef and restaurateur David Akinin, is joined by Carlos Garcia, Francisco Abenante, Victor Moreno, Eduardo Moreno, among others. Donations can be made in bolivars and foreign currency: www.gofundme.com/barrigallena
THE SITUATION IN VENEZUELA
Venezuela, once Latin America’s richest country, is in the grips of a colossal political, economic and humanitarian crisis. As daily headlines around the world attest, the protest-ravaged country with the world’s highest rate of inflation is headed for mass poverty. There are critical shortages of food and medicine. Shelves in government stores are bare and bread lines are common. There is a resurgent epidemic of malaria and children are dying of diphtheria, a disease not seen for two generations. And yet, the government refuses to acknowledge the existence of a crisis and has made only the most limited efforts to obtain international humanitarian assistance.