Celebrity chefs Aaron Sánchez and John Besh had planned to visit a farmers’ market in Kenscoff, Haiti this week, but were denied entrance at the market’s gate.
The chefs, who have starred on American cooking shows like Chopped and The Next Iron Chef, were visiting Haiti with the food issues awareness organization Oxfam America, “battling hunger & poverty through the power of food, farms & people, What an honor!” according to a tweet from Besh. But the town’s mayor, Widjmy Clesca, met them at the market’s iron gates, reported The Associated Press, and refused to let Sánchez, Besh, or the accompanying photographers and journalists enter.
Clesca feared that the photographers would take pictures that would be “unflattering” for the town, and the townspeople seemed to agree. The Associated Press reported, “People at the market shut the metal gate at the entrance, and one man waved his hand for Associated Press journalists to stop filming as they tried to interview Besh.”
Having been denied from the farmers’ market, Sánchez and Besh decided to go to another local organization, one that works with local farmers — but they were preempted by the mayor yet again.
The chefs have had some success meeting with locals, and earlier in the week appeared on Haitian television with Haitian chefs.
"It's unfortunate," Sánchez said. "If Haiti wants to continue to grow, they have to let outsiders in a little bit."