< Go to Homepage

New Chefs’ Movement Moves Immigration Debate Into Nation’s Restaurants

Politics By
Chefs Struggle Over Whether to Bring Politics Into Their Restaurants
A sanctuary restaurant sign displayed inside the Russell Street Deli in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)


A movement has started taking shape within the culinary world in direct response to the Trump administration’s immigration policies. Some establishments are now labeling themselves “sanctuary restaurants.” Per the organization’s online mission statement, this means restaurants will “… stand by restaurant workers, owners, and consumers; and respect their dignity, human rights, and contributions to our industry and our nation—including immigrants, refugees, people of all genders, faiths, races, abilities, and sexual orientations.”

This development has chefs across the nation confronting just how active a role their restaurants should take in political debate, according to the New York TimesShould they proclaim their restaurant a protected space, and in doing so, go to bat for potential undocumented immigrants working for them? And if they don’t, what might the consequences be? Unlike so-called sanctuary cities, the Times points out that no laws bind sanctuary restaurants.

Some big-name chefs have already come out in support of the effort. Chef and TV personality Andrew Zimmern, speaking at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, said “[Trump’s policies are] going to hit Americans in their pocketbooks … and start changing the tone of discourse in Washington very, very, very quickly.”

CNN digs deeper into the sanctuary restaurant phenomenon below.