Chefs Arlyn Montas (Platano Rising), Les Rendon (Marukin Ramen), and Risa Lichtman (Lepage Food & Drinks) serve patrons at the first Queer Soup Night. 

Image: Celina Flores

It’s a Sunday in April, and the Liberty Glass is full of queers eating soup. After paying a suggested donation, guests—both LGBTQ folks and allies—grab hunks of bread donated by Red Sauce Pizza and choose from three dishes prepared by queer-identified chefs: a vegan edamame miso dumpling soup in mushroom mirin broth, a traditional Dominican asopao de camarones y pollo, and a creamed leek and seasonal raab soup with breadcrumbs and Aleppo chili oil. By the end of the evening, the event has raised $1,200 for local social justice org NXT LVL PDX, and Portland’s first Queer Soup Night is officially a success.

“Queer Soup Night started as a response to the new administration, as a way to fight back and simultaneously hold and build community,” explains Queer Soup Night PDX leader Risa Lichtman. Lichtman is a chef whose resume includes Portland’s Sweedeedee and acclaimed New York restaurant Blue Hill at Stone Barns, as well as her own pop-up & catering company, Lepage Food & Drinks.

Queer Soup Night events are open to LGBTQ folks and allies alike. 

Image: Celina Flores

Queer Soup Night PDX is an offshoot of a Brooklyn-based organization founded by chef Liz Alpern in the wake of the 2016 election. The concept: create queer community with a free event (not centered on drinking or substances) that raises money for small, community-led organizations. Since its creation, Queer Soup Night has raised more than $15,000 for local charities, and has expanded to three official chapters across the country (including, improbably, Gainesville, Florida). 

“While it’s always important to support national organizations fighting the good fight, it’s also important to support local organizations who have less funding, less resources, and are right here in our own backyards trying to make change,” says Lichtman. “The queer community is not rich … yet the amounts that folks give back is astonishing.”

Like Alpern, Lichtman responded to the 2016 election by searching for ways to support marginalized communities. “There were of course protests and letter writing and showing up physically for the any important causes we’ve been fighting for,” she says. “But I realized one of the best ways I could show up was through my food. It’s my way of making people feel safe and taken care of.” Lichtman began throwing benefit dinners for SMYRC, Ori Gallery, and other local organizations. When Alpern asked Lichtman to spearhead Queer Soup Night events in Portland, it felt like a perfect fit.

Lichtman hugs Alex Simon, founder of Illage Summer Camp. Every Queer Soup Night is co-hosted by a local org; the first Portland QSN was co-hosted by Illage Summer Camp. 

Image: Celina Flores

The second Queer Soup Night PDX will be held at Handsome Pizza, featuring tunes by DJ Le’Mix and three soup options: vegan tortilla, roasted pumpkin with crème fraiche and pepitas, and turmeric chicken soup with matzoh balls. All donations will benefit Pueblo Unido PDX, an organization that provides resources for Latinx Portlanders with vulnerable immigration statuses. The fun is planned for the evening of Tuesday, November 6—that’s right, election night.

“It’s so important for us to gather in community, and especially on election day because who knows how we’re going to be feeling,” Lichtman says. “Whether we’re celebrating or mourning … it will feel best to be doing so together.”

Queer Soup Night PDX

6–9 p.m. Tue, Nov 6, Handsome Pizza, $10–20 suggested donation. Nobody will be turned away for lack of funds.

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