Illustration by Jenny Chang-Rodriguez, courtesy Chefs Stopping AAPI Hate


Detroit Chefs Come Together to Stand Against AAPI Hate


Growing up in Detroit, Vietnamese American chef Garry Huynh (The Goblin) was used to experiencing and observing incidents of hate against Asian Americans.

“I would see my parents, relatives, and even strangers getting disrespected constantly for their native accents and broken English,” he says. “Growing up in Detroit, there was no social media to expose any of this back then. Even at school, kids weren’t aware it was a hate incident, so no one stood up for us when it happened.”

The Goblin chef Garry Huynh // Photo Courtesy The Goblin

So, when chefs Jennifer Jackson and Justin Tootla of Bunny Bunny asked Huynh to be a part of a Chefs Stopping AAPI Hate takeout dinner series in his hometown this May, he wanted in.

“It prompted me to stand up and fight against this hate and bring awareness not only to this generation, but to all generations moving forward,” Huynh says. “With this takeout dinner series, my team and I hope to spark compassion from one to another through meals, as food has always been our way of bringing relief.”

Warda Patisserie chef-owner Warda Bouguettaya feels similarly: “As an immigrant in this country, and a Muslim, my religion teaches me to speak up for the oppressed. If I allow oppression to happen to one of my brothers and sisters, then who’s got my back when they come after me, my kids or my friends? If one of us is oppressed, then we all are.”

Chefs Stopping AAPI Hate is a grassroots coalition raising awareness and funds to stop hate against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders through unique takeout and dining experiences. It was founded by D.C-based chefs Kevin Tien (Moon Rabbit) and Tim Ma (Lucky Danger, Prather’s on the Alley), and has raised nearly $50,000 for AAPI-led organizations like Stop AAPI Hate, Heart of Dinner, APEX for Youth, RISE, and others since its inception this March.

For AAPI Heritage Month this May, Tien and Ma have expanded their takeout dinner series to New York, San Francisco, and now Detroit.

Every Sunday in May, beginning on May 16 and ending on May 30, you can order unique five-course takeout meals ($150, not including tax) featuring dishes from five different chefs, to be picked up at Bunny Bunny. All proceeds raised from the takeout meals will go toward local AAPI organizations. Each meal also includes an informational flier from The Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University, educating diners on the history of the AAPI community.

Bunny Bunny chef-owners Jennifer Jackson and Justin Tootla // Photo Courtesy Bunny Bunny

Jennifer Jackson and Justin Tootla, the chef-owners of Bunny Bunny, are organizing the Detroit series, and they’ve recruited chefs from restaurants that include Folk, Grey Ghost, Mink, Marrow, Flowers of Vietnam, Miss Kim, The Goblin, Takoi, and Warda Patisserie to help them put together each week’s takeout meal.

“When we saw that Kevin and Tim had started [Chefs Stopping AAPI Hate], it was something that was really important to us,” says Jackson. Jackson and Tootla opened Bunny Bunny, a Chinese restaurant, in August 2020, and they’ve said, from the beginning, that they want the restaurant to always be able to give back to the community, especially the local Chinese American community. “The more spotlight we can put on this and the more we can give back to the community, the better.”

Tootla, who identifies as Indian American, said that while the AAPI community in the city of Detroit is very small (1.7% of the total population) — and now mostly relegated to the suburbs outside of the city — he and Jackson hope that the series will raise awareness of what’s happening, not just in Detroit, but on a national level. “This isn’t happening in just a few pockets; it’s really nationwide.”

“You know, a lot of people do their best by expressing their views on social media, but this is a very real way to put their put their money where their mouth is in support of a great cause and to help your local community,” says Tootla.

“[I want to] get people to care about their neighbors for who they are, and not just the exotic food they cook,” adds Bouguettaya. “Nobody wants to be a hashtag.”

Warda Patisserie chef-owner Warda Bouguettaya with her children // Photo Courtesy Warda Bouguettaya

Moreover, all four chefs hope that by raising awareness, they’ll also help dismantle the racism behind the rise in hate incidents against Asians.

“COVID-19 has hit everyone hard this past year, but to have people dying or their lives threatened because of racism in 2021 is horrific,” Bouguettaya adds. “This will not be solved through social media, sharing posts and hashtags, or just donating to local organizations. People will need to face their racist uncles, neighbors, co-workers and subconscious selves and do the hard and long work. It won’t be easy and won’t happen overnight, but it needs to happen if we want to have a better world for our children.”

See below for the full menus for each Sundays (please note menus are subject to change).

Click on each menu to purchase tickets for your meals.

The Lineup for the Chefs Stopping AAPI Hate Takeout Dinner Series in Detroit

May 16: Featuring dishes from Marrow, Bunny Bunny, Coop, Flowers of Vietnam, Folk
Last day to purchase tickets: May 14
Pick-up Location: Bunny Bunny

May 23: Featuring dishes from Grey Ghost, Dr Sushi, The Goblin, Takoi, Mink
Last day to purchase tickets: May 21
Pick-up Location: Bunny Bunny

May 30: Featuring dishes from Midnight Temple, Miss Kim, Warda Patisserie, Bunny Bunny, Bangkok 96
Last day to purchase tickets: May 28
Pick-up Location: Bunny Bunny

Click here to read a conversation with Chefs Stopping AAPI Hate founders Kevin Tien and Tim Ma, along with chefs Erik Bruner-Yang (Maketto) and Yuan Tang (Rooster & Owl).