Welcome to Appetizers, OpenTable’s weekly column that aims to uplift and motivate with a weekly roundup of the most inspiring food-world news of the week. Start your weekend with the things that are making us laugh, cry, think, and just plain hungry for more.
Making Us … Proud
Restaurants around the country are marking Pride Month with patio parties, drink specials, proceeds donations, and more. At San Antonio LGBTQ-owned pizzeria Playland, a patio party this weekend will honor Pride’s 50th anniversary, while over at Irene’s in Austin, $1 from every rainbow Rice Krispie treats with the words “Be Kind” written in icing sold this month supports sexual health service provider Kind Clinic, and proceeds from a drag brunch this Saturday, June 27 will benefit Black Lives Matter. At Vinatería in New York City, all proceeds from plum spritz sales this weekend will go to The Okra Project, a collective that gives money to Black trans chefs to feed food insecure trans people.
“Virtually everything [for Pride] is canceled, but restaurants have a weird flexibility to acknowledge because we’re open. We can serve as a friendly reminder,” Playland’s general manager Charles Tiseth says.
It’s an especially important time to support LGBTQ restaurants and bars, which have been dwindling in numbers in recent years, making them particularly vulnerable during the pandemic. Queer bar and restaurant Jolene’s in San Francisco has pivoted during this time by selling to-go cocktails, trying out new menus, and hosting Zoom shows. “It’s still a rollercoaster to figure out how we’re going to survive,” owner Jolene Linsangan told Eater.
COVID-19 or not — new restaurants that were in the process of opening pre-pandemic are still forging ahead with their debuts. In Las Vegas, new LGBTQ bar The Garden has opened just in time for Pride with drag bingo Thursdays, RuPaul’s Drag Race viewing parties, and more. Other recent big openings include Elio in Las Vegas from Mexican dream team Enrique Olvera and Daniela Soto-Innes, an ice cream shop from renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson, and The Optimist in Nashville from acclaimed Southern chef Ford Fry.
Making Us … Clear Our Schedules
A new interactive online cooking class company has been gaining traction, with big-name chefs signed up to teach home cooks how to make various dishes such as scallion pancakes, stir-fry, and more. Upcoming classes at Kitchen Rodeo include Hakka stir fry with chef Moonlyn Tsai of NYC’s Malaysian cafe Kopitiam and a three-course French meal Daniel Boulud of Michelin-starred Daniel. Each class benefits various charities such as National Bail Out and No Kid Hungry.