A still from Crisis Kitchen, by local filmmaker Gabriel Baron.
A still from Crisis Kitchen, by local filmmaker Gabriel Baron.

Crisis Kitchen—a short film about a Portland mutual aid food organization of the same name—packs a lot into its nine-minute runtime.

The Moth Mainstage Returns to Portland on December 14.
Literary Arts presents The Moth: Portland Mainstage. True Stories, told live. Held at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

Created by local filmmaker Gabriel Baron, Crisis Kitchen puts a beautifully shot spotlight on a group of restaurant chefs and volunteers who started cooking and giving away rice, beans, and tamales at the start of the pandemic, and have since given over 10,000 meals to Portlanders in need.

“As soon as we became available to the community as a resource, we became aware of how broad the crisis is in our city,” says Adrian Garcia Groenendyk, Crisis Kitchen’s co-founder, whose voiceover guides viewers through much of the film.

Garcia Groenendyk also speaks in the film about the limitations of capitalism when it comes to battling income inequality and hunger.

“The solution to the food insecurity crisis has to be outside of the formal capitalistic economy, because capitalism is about, ‘How is this going to become profitable?’” he says. “It’s not about supporting communities.”

Support The Portland Mercury

“This whole notion that we do not have the resources or the means” to feed everyone, he adds, “is a complete lie.”

When food donations come up, your first instinct might be to conjure images of canned green beans and kitchen-sink stews. But Crisis Kitchen provides folks with “really high-quality, delicious, fancy restaurant-quality food, that we give away for free,” Garcia Groenendyk says. The kitchen also delivers vibrant grocery boxes filled with produce donated by local farmers. Baron’s shots of the team’s cooking process—zucchini lovingly scored and seared, queso fresco carefully sprinkled over enchiladas—are lush and mouth-watering, and would be at home on any big food media brand’s website.

Crisis Kitchenstreaming for free on Vimeo—is a must-watch for any Portlander interested in the city’s growing mutual aid network. Just try not to watch it when you’re hungry.