Local restaurateur and baker Zoe Nathan is hoping to literally feed the community’s hunger for political action via her new Bake & Gather series of community events/fundraisers.
Nathan, who co-owns the Rustic Canyon restaurant group, said her goal is to give business owners a sense of agency and ownership over political actions but just as importantly, she wants to foster a movement for community engagement that brings people together to support whatever causes are of primary importance to individual communities.
The first event will be this Saturday, Feb. 25 from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. at Rustic Canyon Park (601 Latimer Road), with Huckleberry Bakery & Café, Caffe Luxxe, and Rusticoffee selling pastries and coffee to help benefit the American Civil Liberties Union and Los Angeles’ Public Counsel, which supports immigrants and underserved communities with pro bono legal services.
In addition to food, custom t-shirts will be on sale from Downtown Los Angeles’ Woo Souvenir Shop to support the causes.
She said she felt energized and inspired following the recent wave of political engagement, like the Women’s March, but said many individuals returned home unsure what to do next.
“It was really fun to be together, to gather together and be in the community and I wanted to feel that as often as I can,” she said.
As a mother of three with seven restaurants, she wasn’t able to attend every march, meeting or activity on the list but what she can do is turn her professional experience into a tool for community organizing that she hopes other bakers and chefs will use to support their communities.
Following Saturday’s event, there will be additional Los Angeles events through the summer. There are also plans for additional fundraisers in New York and Chicago.
Nathan said each event will be slightly different and will be a reflection of the individuals hosting, organizing and attending. No matter what the specific event is like, she said the goal is to show locals they can take action in support of causes they care about.
“At the end of the day, it’s really going to come back to our small communities,” she said. “We’re going to be able to fix in our small communities a really big handful of these problems. It’s about showing we do still have a voice and have some power in this.”
She said restaurants are often asked to support other people’s events, and they do with great regularity, but she wants the gather fundraisers to be a tool that gives businesses some individual control over their support. At the same time, she hopes they bring diverse voices together to seek common ground.
“I want them to take this idea and use it as their own. This experience has brought me a lot of satisfaction and a lot of peace. It’s helped me find my voice in it, maybe that works for somebody else and helps them find their voice,” she said. “At the end of the day the coolest people who do this are willing to gather people together who think differently”
Nathan said a website will be live on Saturday to help others start their own Bake & Gather events. The website (www.andgatherforgood.com) will soon have a simple planning checklist, collateral for posters and promotional materials, and recommended charitable organizations. Locals can also learn about upcoming events in Los Angeles and across the country by following Bake & Gather on Instagram and tagging #bettertogether.
“I want to put this out in the world and if it helps somebody, if it inspires somebody, that would be one of my greatest joys,” said Nathan.
Bake and Gather events
Saturday, March 11 from 12-3 p.m. at the Silver Lake Reservoir’s Meadow (1850 W. Silverlake Drive), hosted by Roxana Jullapat (behind the forthcoming Friends & Family), Proof Bakery’s Na Young Ma, and Alimento’s Harriet Ha. Saturday.
March 25 (time and location TBD) with The Rose Café’s Neidy Venegas and Joshua Graves and Broken Spanish’s Ivan Marquez.
Sometime in April by Cake Monkey’s Elizabeth Belkind and food stylist Staci Valentine will host earlier in the month, followed by Bear Claw Kitchen’s Sarah Lange.
A May event with Platine Bakery’s Jamie Ginsburg and The Gourmandise School’s Clémence Gossett.
A summer event hosted by Hatchet Hall’s Paige Russell, Sqirl’s Sasha Piligian, Lodge Bread’s Jacqui De Borga, Bub & Grandma’s Andy Kadin, and more.