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In the News: Mississippi Chefs Host Protest Dinner in NYC

According to an article published in The New York Times on Monday, Oxford chef John Currence and other prominent southern chefs are hosing a protest dinner in New York City to coincide with the annual Mississippi in the Park picnic in June.

Chef John Currence
Chef John Currence

The purpose of the dinner is to protest Gov. Phil Bryant signing the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which goes into effect this July. While the bill is intended to protect business owners’ personal religious views, it is often referred to as the “turn away gays” law by opponents.
“More than anything else, the law sends a terrible message about the state of consciousness in the state of Mississippi,” Currence said in an interview with The Times. “We are not going to sit idly by and watch Jim Crow get revived in our state.”
Where the story gets interesting, however, is that Currence was originally asked to host a dinner at New York’s Butter Midtown for Gov. Bryant and the Mississippi Development Authority to coincide with the Picnic. Currence said he agreed to this dinner before Bryant signed the bill. The “Big Gay Mississippi Welcome Table” (or Protest Dinner) will take place June 13 at City Grit in Manhattan.
“It’s polite Southern activism with food, which is a magic way to bring people together,”  Art Smith told The Times. Smith has worked as a private chef for Oprah Winfrey and former Florida governor Jeb Bush.
All proceeds from the Protest Dinner will go to gay and lesbian groups on college campuses in Mississippi. Dinner will be prepared by a lineup of all-star southern chefs, including Kelly English of Restaurant Iris in Memphis, Tenn., food writer and chef Virginia Willis, Chef Bill Smith of Crook’s Corner Restaurant in Chapel Hill, N.C., and Douglas Quint and Bryan Petroff of New York’s Big Gay Ice Cream (they’ll serve Sundays for dessert, of course).
Tickets go on sale later this week at www.citygritnyc.com/#MISSISSIPPI.
Click Here to learn more about the 35th annual Mississippi Picnic in the Park hosted by the New York Mississippi Society on June 14, 2014.

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