• pineapple NY: Food As Community Recap •

 all photos by  Katie Landsman

all photos by Katie Landsman

by Kaila Stein

The pineapple NY squad made their New York debut this month with a sold-out event at Haven’s Kitchen that left the crowd buzzing with excitement about what’s to come from pineapple NY.

Haven’s Kitchen, a woman-owned cooking school, event space and healthy eats cafe in Chelsea made the perfect backdrop and partner for the event. The airy, elegantly-designed space provided an intimate setting for the conversation on building and sustaining community in New York City.

Alison Cayne, the founder of Haven’s Kitchen, moderated a panel discussion centered around women, food, and community. On the panel were three inspiring, movement-building women: Jessamyn Rodriguez, founder and CEO of Hot Bread Kitchen, Sonya Kharas, program manager at The League of Kitchens, and Erika A. Inwald, national coordinator of the Domestic Fair Trade Association.

These rad women shared personal stories about their work, inspiration, and communities, and doled out advice to those looking to get more involved in the social justice and food world.

Oh, and there was food. Fresh pizzas from Rubirosa provided by Caviar, hearty salads and falafel from Haven’s Kitchen, fresh conchas and pitayas, Mexican sweet breads, from Hot Bread Kitchen, and bubbly wine coolers from Ramona. In true #pinefor fashion, everyone took out their phones to share all the impressive spread of women-made goods before digging in.

But the inspiring speakers were the main event. Jessamyn Rodriguez talked about what motivated her to start Hot Bread Kitchen, a nonprofit bakery in East Harlem focused on training and leveraging the unique talents of low-income immigrant and minority women. Rodriguez reflected on the current political climate around immigration and how it has affected her employees, making the work they do more important than ever.

Sonya Kharas spoke about the close connections forged at The League of Kitchens, which offers intimate cooking workshops led by immigrants in their own homes. Meeting people outside of your world is an important part of understanding different cultures, cuisines and communities, Kharas said.  

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On a recent month-long work trip to LA, Kharas chose to stay with friends of friends outside of the city –  a 90-year-old Pakistani couple. Her quirky adventure turned into a transformative experience that taught her the value of branching out from her community. Eating dinner with them every night at 6pm became the highlight of her trip.

For those looking to get more involved in these social justice missions, Erica Inwald from DFTA offered this advice: use the skills you have to help – whether it’s social media expertise, writing skills or graphic design. Use your powers to contribute where you can.

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The event also showcased the remarkable women of the newly minted pineapple NY community. Even though I didn’t know a soul when I arrived, I immediately felt a connection with the other attendees over a shared a love of food and got to meet some really interesting women.  

The evening capped off with talk of more pineapple NY events coming down the pike – tequila tastings, cookbook signings, cooking workshops. Get excited: pineapple NY is officially open for business and this community is growing fast!

- by Kaila Stein


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