Eating So Others Can Eat

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Every second and fourth Sunday Jim Rehberg feeds scores of folks he calls Friends and Forgotten Workers, in Cass Park. The self-taught chef, a UAW member, got his start during the newspaper strike in 1995, when the Wobbly Kitchen cooked for “ox roasts” to raise money for the embattled drivers and journalists. It was simple food—spaghetti, beef, iceberg salads—to fill the stomach and a need.

When the strike was over the Kitchen kept going, and has provided food for scores of movement events. “We cook for causes that use food to get people together,” Rehberg says. “Food works more often than not.”

But at those various labor and social causes, he sees the same folks over and over. The Forgotten Workers and those who bring food on those Sundays are a different set.

At a recent celebration of Joe Hill's birthday, Rehberg's menu included hummus, black bean hummus, a twist on Waldorf salad, tabbouli made with quinoa, mjadra made with bulgur and long-roasted onions, and a vegetarian pasta sauce entirely of roasted vegetables, in addition to the chicken-and-rice main dish that's a staple of Cass Park Sundays. It was all top-notch, at a level of sophistication undreamed of at those ox roasts of 18 years ago. I am not saying this to be nice. To hear Rehberg talk about how he chooses his spices is to know you're in the presence of a homegrown master. Cooking for a crowd requires a whole different set of knowledges.

Though many others contribute, Rehberg's been footing a lot of the bill for Cass Park Sundays out of his own pocket. Supporters decided it was time to step up. This Thursday, November 14, there'll be a fundraiser at the Gaelic League, 6:30-10:30 pm, with Rehberg in the chef slot. He promises vegan and meat pastas.

Plus music from Cello Bella, Steve Deasy, Black Hat and Bruce Liles, and an auction. All for $15.

Find the Wobbly Kitchen on Facebook or email rehbergj@hotmail.com. The Gaelic League is at 2068 Michigan Ave., a couple blocks east of Trumbull.

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