While the queer community thrives in Brooklyn, there still isn’t a lot of options for people who do not want to meet or mingle at LGBTQ+ bars and nightlife parties. “I wanted to create a community and networking space to meet queer people surrounded by food,” said Gabrielle Lenart, founder of This Queer Kitchen, a new project she launched in East Williamsburg just last year.
This Queer Kitchen’s mission is to facilitate connections in the queer community through food. They hope to foster a safe and inclusive environment, especially for those in the womxn, trans, non-binary, and QTPOC communities. “We focus on highlighting the importance of food as a community-building agent and roundtable for discussion, skill-building, and networking,” their website states.
While pursuing her masters in Food Studies at NYU, Lenart had to create a website in a food media class. Her professor prompted her to create something connecting queerness and food, “I got really passionate about it. I started to see the need for this content, and I thought this was my calling.”
Originally from Philadelphia, Lenart had a scarce queer community to connect with. People from her hometown are horrified when she tells them about her queer business. She has always felt that if you identify as anything else but straight, it’s hard to be in a space and not feel like you’re not being judged. You’re not able to be authentic.
Due to the absence of spaces to collaborate and communicate with one another in a vulnerable community, This Queer Kitchen was born. Aiming to have 3-4 events per month, that combine different concepts, like a storytelling series spotlighting queer women in food, and a drag queen cookie decorating workshop, TQK seeks to connect and embrace every corner of the community.
TQK isn’t a one-woman show, either. Jessie YuChen joined Lenart’s project as chef and operations manager, helping build a stronger queer community through food. YuChen is a chef, food stylist, and a culinary assistant at Saveur Magazine and helps Lenarts with all the logistics of their events.
“When you use food as a medium for events, it’s a natural way to create conversation – you talk about culture,” said Lenart.
Originally inspired with the culinary arts by her mother, who cooked all meals from scratch three times a day, Lenart learned that food is powerful and a tool for communication. “It was an act of care,” she said. “Watching her in the kitchen taught how connections are made through food.”
As an advocate to her community, Lenart emphasizes that Pride month isn’t the only time to participate in their events, as many rainbow campaigns die out after the month of June. “We are a constant resource and don’t just operate during Pride,” she said. “It’s important to continue this as a full-time thing, keeping events accessible.”
All images courtesy of This Queer Kitchen.
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