In 1989, Mollie Pier founded Project Chicken Soup with the intention of delivering wholesome, kosher meals to people living with HIV/AIDS and other serious illnesses. Last weekend, Pier was honored for her decades-long dedication to that cause at a heart-warming awards brunch at Temple Beth Am near Beverly Hills. Many of L.A.'s most prominent chefs with connections to the Jewish community lent their talents to the cause.
The brunch, which was attended by more than 200 people and raised more than $20,000, helped crystallize the idea that food builds community and nourishes us in ways more than the obvious.
The morning began with a batampte buffet provided by Akasha Richmond (Akasha), Evan Kleiman, Alex Reznik, Suzanne Tracht (Jar), Susan Feniger (Susan Feniger's Street) and Eric Greenspan (The Foundry on Melrose). The chefs prepared the meal with products donated by Surfas, Westside Produce, Baron Herzog Wines and with volunteer assistants in the fully kosher kitchen.
Kosher food can, at times, be dismissed for its limitations, but these chefs all knew how to make it work. Alex Reznik's pickled herring was tangy and sour, with just a hint of sweetness. Susan Feniger and Kajsa Alger made the deviled eggs that are available on the menu at Street; Akasha Richmond's kale Caesar salad brought the garlic that no Jewish food event should be without.
As guests settled in to nosh, Pier was feted for her incredible dedication to a cause that she founded after losing her own son, Nathaniel, more than 25 years ago. Since that time, she has worked four hours, twice each month, visiting clients prior to meal deliveries and leading a team in the PCS kitchen, located in the Surfas building in Culver City. The money raised goes to making and delivering meals to 125 clients two Sundays a month, with 10 meals per delivery.
At the conclusion of the day, The Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles performed a few songs -- including a Jerry Herman's "Hello Dolly," with the lyrics changed to "Hello, Mollie." There wasn't a dry eye in the house. Nor any hungry people.
Project Chicken Soup is always seeking volunteers and donations.
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