The great uniter of all people is food and social rights,” says Rustic Canyon Family of Restaurants Co-Owner Zoe Nathan. The celebrated baker has teamed up with an incredible group of women and top bakers and pastry chefs across Los Angeles to create Bake & Gather—a grassroots campaign to bring people together in a family-friendly, bake sale-inspired setting in order to raise funds for causes the community feels passionate about.
We spoke with Zoe about her endeavor, what sparked her to take this initiative and more!
What a cool, meaningful campaign! At what point did you stop and say “I need to do something to spread the feeling of neighbors and raise money for causes?
“I think that I felt like everybody else. We were all feeling scared and uncomfortable with the turn things have been taking. So many of us went to the Women’s March in LA and felt really good about being surrounded by people who shared our interests and felt the same way about these core issues and human rights. We came home, and the next steps were to either attend another huge march or start calling our senators. That can be a little bit of a lonely experience, and sometimes it’s not realistic for people to go to all these marches—whether it’s because of distance, work, taking your kids to school, etc. With Bake & Gather, I wanted to get that same kind of community feeling I felt during the Women’s March, and do it in a way where people could stay connected, involved, and continue gathering every weekend with their friends and neighbors. To me, it’s that “gather element.” We want everyone to feel like they have something to give and to offer in this inviting setting.”
I love that you’re encouraging people of all backgrounds to participate, saying it doesn’t have to just be professional bakers. That being said, you’re known for your art. Has inspiring people always been a passion of yours?
“I love what I do, and it brings me a lot of joy. I hope people are having similar experiences in the world with their own talents. Our main focus was inspiring others to have their own Bake & Gathers in LA and beyond. You can do anything and “gather.” What’s the most important is that you’re gathering for good. Everybody has a skill that can be shared and inspire someone else—whether it’s reading children’s books, making jewelry, leading a hike. It’s about inspiring people to get in touch with their power and voice.”
In a time where we need good people to step up more than ever, is there a moment of speaking with a complete stranger that sticks out in your mind?
“I talk to people I don’t know all the time. That’s just the industry I’m in. I find that anybody I talk to at Huckleberry and other businesses, whether they see our sign for Bake & Gather or not, pretty much knows us and our ethos. People are really happy and proud to come eat at an establishment that’s not scared to say what we believe in. At the Rustic Canyon Family of Restaurants, we believe that everybody is equal and everyone is entitled to basic human rights. To us, it’s not a political thing. Everyone is welcome, regardless of your affiliation. We feel lucky and blessed to have you there. It’s the reason we do what we do every single day.”
What can we expect at each event?
“Professional bakers are asked all the time to donate our time and goods to charitable causes, and we’re happy to do so. It’s just very rare in our industry that we get to choose where we’re donating those time and efforts. With the Bake & Gathers led by professional bakers, this is their chance to choose what is near and dear to their hearts. It could be the ACLU, an environmental cause, or something more local, like cleaning up graffiti in their park. The point is to encourage professionals and amateurs to let their voices be heard, stand up for what they believe in, and most importantly, bring their community together and thank them for their support. Our communities have been so supportive of us, so this is our gift to them.”
This weekend’s Bake & Gather event will take place on Sunday, April 9 from 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. at the Silver Lake Meadow (2300 Silver Lake Blvd.), hosted by Hourie Sahakian with friends from Bestia and Here’s Looking at You, featuring Saffron’s Lemonade Stand, Bub & Grandma’s Bread, and Caffe Luxxe coffee. Both adults and children are encouraged to join the gathering, with 100% of the proceeds benefitting the ACLU and Planned Parenthood Los Angeles.
Other upcoming Bake & Gather events can be found here.
For those interested in starting their own Bake & Gather, the website (www.andgatherforgood.com) will soon have a simple planning checklist, collateral for posters and promotional materials, and recommended charitable organizations. Become a part of the movement and learn about upcoming events in Los Angeles and across the country by following Bake & Gather on Instagram and tagging #bettertogether.