In March of last year, a group of friends quarantined at the hotel, including the designer Raul Lopez, the musician Kelsey Lu, the chef Angela Dimayuga, the artist Banna Nega, the Ghetto Gastro co-founders Jon Gray and Pierre Serrão and the latter’s wife, Devon Scarpulla, and their baby, Saige. We communed as one big household, along with Gabriella Khalil, creative director of Palm Heights, her family and Jake Brodsky, our executive chef. We cooked all our meals together, celebrated birthdays and threw high teas to test out new recipes. It’s been a revealing year, for better or worse, but it’s also given me time to nurture my friendships. I’ve been learning how to be more supportive and understanding.
During the first few months of the pandemic, we worked closely with local organizers to provide over 5,000 meals to people on the island: Four days a week, we would cook and pack them up while blasting our favorite music. In July, when things reopened, we started throwing events, both for locals and visiting friends. When you’re breaking bread with people from all walks of life, everyone leaves that experience much more satisfied, and not just from the food. Any dinner is about the mix of people, when excitement and exploration can be communicated in unison, when we can talk about the possibility of a new dish or nascent idea giddily and eagerly. It’s a shared bond. That act of cooking with one another, or telling our stories through dining and food, gives me tremendous optimism and hope.
Interviews have been edited and condensed.
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