Chefs To Host Big Gay Mississippi Welcome Table In New York

On Friday, June 13th, chefs John Currence, Art Smith, and Kelly English will host the first-ever Big Gay Mississippi Welcome Table in partnership with chef Sara Simmons in New York City. The evening will feature several Southern chefs and celebrities who will join forces to oppose Mississippi's recently passed Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The bill, which will enable businesses and individuals to refuse services to LGBT citizens on the grounds of religious freedom, has also been called the "Turn Away the Gays" bill.

The evening of "traditional — yet progressive, modern and open-minded — Southern fare" will be hosted by John Currence of City Grocery, Bouré, and Big Bad Breakfast; Kelly English of Restaurant Iris and The Second Line; and Art Smith from Table Fifty-Two, Southern Art and Bourbon Bar, and LYFE Kitchen, along with chefs Bill Smith, Dwayne Ingraham, Virginia Willis, Douglas Quint, and Bryan Petroff.

"One of the great things about the culinary industry is that we rarely just do things," said chef Kelly English. "When a great group of people gets together, there's a reason for it. There are a lot of great things happening in Mississippi and Southern hospitality is alive and well, and all-encompassing. There are two sides to every story and we want to be able to show that second side."

In the spirit of inclusion, each dish on the menu for the Big Gay Mississippi Welcome Table will be a collaboration between two chefs. A final, unannounced chef will be cooking with John Currence.

"Food is particularly about welcoming and inclusion," said chef Currence. "I think it's everyone's inherent responsibility to do what they think is right, and we want to make it abundantly clear that we're not going to sit idly by. Mississippi is a good place, full of good people, and a great history of the arts, of which a significant portion is due to our gay brothers and sisters. We hope to pay tribute to that balance in the cooking world."

Tickets are now available via the City Grit website.

Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.