Philly’s Top Chefs Are Cooking in Support of This Undocumented Mother

Chefs from South Philly Barbacoa, Hungry Pigeon, High Street on Market, and others are preparing a dinner at Church of the Advocate, where Carmela Apolonio Hernandez and her four children have been seeking sanctuary, next week.

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Carmela Apolonio Hernandez stands with her children on the steps of the Church of the Advocate in January 2018.

Asylum-seeking undocumented mother Carmela Apolonio Hernandez and her four children have sought sanctuary from an ICE deportation order in North Philly’s Church of the Advocate for the past 10 months. Next week, members of Philly’s restaurant community are taking action to show their support and draw attention to her plight.

On Friday, October 19th at 6 p.m., chefs are teaming up with organizers from immigrants rights groups PAUWR and Sanctuary Advocate Coalition to host a family-style meal at the church near 18th and Diamond Streets, which is known for its commitment to social justice.

In addition to slow-cooked lamb from South Philly Barbacoa, the menu will include greens, cornbread, black-eyed peas, desserts, and wine, with dishes prepared by Hungry Pigeon’s Scott Schroeder, Shola Olunloyo of Studio Kitchen, Elijah Milligan of South, Ana Caballero of High Street Hospitality, Jezabel’s Cafe owner Jezabel Careaga, Ari Miller of Food Underground, and J.A. Harris of catering outfit Food Everyone Deserves.

“This is a show of support from Philadelphia’s restaurant community,”said South Philly Barbacoa’s Ben Miller. “We hope people are willing to learn about what’s going on and support sanctuary, and want to find out what they can do to help.”
Hernandez brought her children from Mexico to seek asylum in the United States in 2015 after she and one of her daughters were threatened and assaulted by drug gangs, who murdered two of her nephews and her brother after they could not pay extortion fees. Hernandez will address attendees at the dinner, as will South Philly Barbacoa owner Cristina Martinez, who is also undocumented.
Only 40 pay-what-you-can tickets are available for next Friday’s dinner at the North Philly church, and you can get yours here.