Editors’ Letter

#86this: Main Menu

WE ASSUMED this fall would be rather lighthearted. The plan was to go on the road to promote our new cookbook, meet up with the Bombesquad around the country, and check out the vibrant food scenes in cities we rarely, if ever, get to visit, like Seattle, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Durham. Our tour kicked off Oct. 5th in New York City at The Wing, the feminist workspace/clubhouse. Earlier that day, The New York Times ran a story by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey about Harvey Weinstein and his systematic abuse of women in Hollywood. The conversation changed almost instantly. Instead of talking about roast chicken and chocolate chip cookie recipes, harassment and the treatment of women in the food world became the focal point at each stop we made. #MeToo wasn’t just a hashtag; it was a constant refrain.

The hideous spotlight hit the food world when allegations were published about chefs John Besh and Mario Batali and restaurateur Ken Friedman. (Thank you to The Times-PicayuneThe NY TimesThe Washington Post, and Eater for their hard work and reporting.) The last story hit home for us the most as Ken was a friend and supporter of our magazine and, we thought, of our cause. And his partner, Chef April Bloomfield, is our current covergirl. April has been a trailblazing chef and an inspiration for many in this industry, so to learn of her part was sad and ugly and confusing as it didn’t square with the woman we know. 

But that is the reality of harassment. It is ugly and sad and confusing. And for the victims, it’s a nightmare.

The bright spot of the #MeToo era is that we are finally waking up from our inexplicable slumber of acceptance. Abuse of power is not okay, touching without consent is not okay, and standing by is not okay. We’re not naive enough to think harassment will disappear forever, or that the disenfranchised won’t continue to suffer, but everyone is now on notice. 

The idea for #86This came from Kerry’s mother, Sheryl Diamond. (If you’ve come to Jubilee, you might have met Mom Diamond, as she runs the registration table.) When the news about Batali and Friedman broke, she texted and said, “What women had to endure to keep a job.” As the mother of five and a working woman since her teenage years, she has seen and endured plenty. “Why don’t you do an online special issue addressing this?” she suggested. So here we are. We put an open call for submissions on social media and you responded in greater numbers than we ever expected. Thank you to everyone who wrote to us and pitched ideas; who worked through the holidays to get their stories in on time; and who relived painful memories to produce their contribution to this package. You are brave, honest, and incredible.

And the name #86This? Those in the food world know it well. When something is 86’ed, it means it's no longer available. The app, entree, dish has run out and is off the menu. Our dream is that together we will 86 harassment and that the food world will emerge a stronger, kinder, more equitable place for everyone. We hope you take the time to go through everything; there is wisdom in these words and images. We know times seem bleak and it’s hard to see a way forward and out of this awful mess, but you will find hope here.

Some practical matters. If you are being harassed, know someone being harassed, or need legal help or other assistance, please visit the Time's Up website, which has a list of resources. As of press time, Time’s Up has raised more than $16 million for its legal defense fund. Cherry Bombe donated to the cause and we encourage you to if you have the means. 

Lastly, thank you to every woman and man who has shared their story with us, with other media outlets, and with each other. You truly are the light that will lead us out of this.

Sincerely,

Kerry Diamond and Claudia Wu

 

back to #86THIS