That’s what my dad said to me, more than once. He usually responded with that after I complained about some rather large issue such as the war in Vietnam, or the condition of the roads in south Louisiana. And he always followed that up with “but you can save a small part of it.” Meaning I should consider cutting the grass in front of the elderly lady’s house before whining about the pitiful shape of I-10 between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Consider the problems of my own community, my own street and do something about those before bitching about something out of my control. Since the Russian invasion two weeks back I’ve watched the horrors unfold before my eyes and I’ve wanted to do something to help, but no amount of community involvement here has lifted that desire to help. I thought if I got on Facebook and left dozens of nasty emojis on official Russian government pages that would help. It was fun but it didn’t help. Then I left YouTube videos of the destruction with one-star reviews on lots of Google pages of fine dining restaurants in Moscow. And that just left me feeling empty. Then I read about a chef friend of mine in NYC, Marc Murphy, was headed to Poland to cook with World Central Kitchen. I set about solving the logistics of getting to Przemysl, Poland and realized I could pull it off. I texted my wife Amy and asked her if I could fly to Poland and cook with Jose Andres and World Central Kitchen and for a minute I was sure she would respond with “are you crazy?”
“Of course you can. If you believe it is something you should do then do it.” I do love my wife very much.
I emailed WCK and told them I was available and if I found a place to stay, could they use me? I gathered from their website they had plenty of help performing the simple tasks, and were in need of chefs with my skillset. Their response was “when can you be here and for how long?” Later that day I bought my tickets and started learning a few basic Polish phrases.
I have a couple of friends that wear that white collar and in the past I’ve had very open discussions on the why and how they received their calling. They described it as an emotional tug, one they could not shake no matter how hard they tried and it only became stronger the more they tried to run from or ignore it. And that’s what I’ve felt as I watched the unending stream of refugees walking out of Ukraine with the bare minimum of possessions on their backs. Surely I can do something more, something meaningful. And I heard the echo of my Dad’s voice reminding me that perhaps I can save a small part of the world.
Dad, I heard you.
Care to make a donation to World Central Kitchen?
May you support me on this journey with a $20 via PayPal or Venmo?
Will you keep me and the folks I’ll be feeding in your prayers? I’ll report back as much as possible and before I leave Poland, I hope to enjoy some pierogis in Krakow.