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The Perfect P Blog

Let Them Eat Cake

Let Them Eat Cake

"Let them eat cake" is the traditional translation of the French phrase "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche", supposedly spoken by "a great princess" upon learning that the peasants had no bread.-- from Wikipedia.

A lot has been said over the past few days about the people seeking asylum in the US, the countries they come from and why they are coming here.  A lot has been said about people who don't speak English immediately.  I am not an expert on geo political dynamics.  I have traveled the world extensively including to Central America and South America. and I am a mother who has met, worked with and listened to people in these countries about the plight of their people. 

I have visited Belize, Guatemala, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico and Colombia all in the last 10 years.  I have taken my children to these countries and have seen it thru my eyes as well as theirs.   I have seen my children gain perspective about their own lives by seeing the lives of others.  This has been the greatest gift of my life.  Perspective.

Sometimes I have gone as a tourist, sometimes I have gone on a medical mission with Operation Smile which brings you to places well off the beaten tourist path.  I have see people living in poverty --  in their homes which are cleaner than most American homes by the way, I have seen shoeless children not more than 3 feet high carry luggage twice their weight to make a few pennies. I have met and seen beautiful families working three jobs to provide for their families.  Some travel 14 hours to be considered for a surgery, I have accepted a gracious thank you letter from a 7 year old child who lives in a house without a door for helping his family.  

Finally, I have listened.  Listened intently to locals in countries such as Colombia or Belize, that have seen extreme violence and turned it around with a lot of work and commitment.  In all of these instances, I have seen people who love their countries, love their families and are proud of their culture.  I have never met anyone who thinks -- I wish I could break into America and get arrested.  It's just ridiculous. I have seen the well educated helping the impoverished without judgement, something that is truly humbling when you experience it.  Kindness, true kindness is giving without judgement, with grace, with respect for human life.

Here's a newsflash -- the criminals aren't trying to come to America, they want to stay right where they are.  It is the good people, it is the hardworking people, it is the MOST DESPERATE OF PEOPLE who seek asylum.  It is people who have NO CHOICE that seek asylum.  When they leave, they know they can't go back.  When they leave, they know they may never see their extended families again, when they leave, they leave with the clothes on their back, in the cloak of night.  Do 'bad' people also try to get into America?  Of course, but the hallmark of many of these cultures are violent gangs which is marked by specific tattoos.  The reason why many families with young children flee is because as a young boy reaches 10 years old he is marked for a gang, if he does not join and have a tattoo to show it, he and his family will be killed.  It is as simple and brutal as that.  Murdered.  What would you do?  Would you stay?  If you flee and have the tattoo here in America, you think your peers will accept you?  

In America,we are blessed with many benefits -- natural resources, a stable government, freedom of speech and of course, economic opportunity.  To think that these freedoms are available to all peoples, in all countries is of course ,to be willfully ignorant about the world.  It has been said over the past few days that the families running from violence -- the small country of Honduras has consistently led the world in murders -- led    the   world -- deserve to have their children taken away from them.  Some of the logic is that they are criminals breaking into our country -- despite the fact that many of these people came thru approved checkpoints seeking asylum.  Some just don't want these families 'infesting' our country with their poverty because they are not the best of their country -- despite the fact, that they are fleeing the country because they are good people, good people trying to protect their families from murder, gangs and war.

Isn't it easier for us to demonize all of these people, belittle them, strip them of their humanity and simplify their plight by calling them criminals and tell them to just go home.  Go home to be slaughtered.  But here's the thing, if you are running away from a lion and your choice is to run into the closest shelter or stay and be mauled to death, especially to protect your child, you will always, always seek shelter.  

I recently visited Bogota, Colombia and met Colombians who are over the moon with happiness because after decades of being terrorized by crime, kidnapping and drug cartels, they are thriving and poised for the future.  In Colombia, I listened as our guide, a young man in his 20s, a college graduate, described how every family, rich or poor, had family members kidnapped and killed.  Every single family, let that sink in.  In Colombia, there isn't inherent disdain for the poor --  only for criminals, only for anyone who tries to hurt other people.  The poor, he explained are no different, they work hard and live honorably.  In fact, the rich were the criminals for so many years benefiting from the drug cartel money.

The new Colombia did not happen by a miracle, it happened through a variety of economic, political and humanitarian interventions.  The same is true for Belize, formerly British Honduras, the same is true for Panama -- which are far from perfect but they are on their way to economic stability.  Deep inside the rest of Central America and South America, there are people right now desperate for change, desperate for stability.  None of these countries now experiencing stability has solved poverty, it is 100 percent about breaking the choke hold of crime, gangs, cartels and corrupt governments.  

I don't have the answers for how to destroy the gangs, the drug cartels running most of these countries, but without a world plan of countries offering trade agreements, supporting democraticly elected governments to help the good people in these countries turn this around, people will keep coming here in droves.  

Torturing human beings by stripping their children from them, throwing them in jail is the ultimate human rights violation.  Surely, we are better than this.  Surely we can create a humane system to vet immigrants, to treat them with dignity.  Not everyone can come here, we all know that, we cannot absorb all of the world's poor but we are a nation of immigrants.  Families have always come here to flee oppression and poverty, always.  

Please, please don't support thinking that says it is their fault they are poor or deserve to be mistreated.  No one deserves to have bad things happen to them or their children.  I am the mother of three children born with disabilities and I know a little bit about the randomness of life and unfairness.  I know a little bit about being treated with disdain by people more fortunate than me.  I know a little bit about wondering why God had let this happen to us.  I know what it is like to be told God only gives us what we can handle by earnest people.  It turns out it had nothing to do with God, it has everything to do with the randomness of life.  We are not in control of where or how we are born.  We are not.  

The world is full of critics.  Be an encourager.  Be part of a solution.  What does any of this have to do with fashion, art and food?  Provenance is cultural.  Provenance is heritage.  Provenance at it's essence is our humanity.

How You Can Help

Have a nice weekend.  Lisa

 

 

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NYC Trunk Show, Amanda Wakes Up Paperback Launch & Champions of Change on CNN

NYC Trunk Show, Amanda Wakes Up Paperback Launch & Champions of Change on CNN

Last week, on June 12th we hosted our first NYC Trunk Show at my friend Anne Sylvestor's beautiful home on the Upper West Side.  We celebrated the launch of Alisyn Camerota's paperback launch of her book Amanda Wakes Up and introduced our store & food to NYC.  We had a wonderful evening full of toasts, appetizers from Chef Duane Shand, plenty of laughs and smiles.  We want to give a special thank you to Flavia Barker of Green of Greenwich for the beautiful flowers, Catherine Cutier of Vineyard Brands for the delicious wines including Miraval Rose Wine (my favorite),and everyone who turned out to help us celebrate.  Check our Facebook page for more photos.  

To give you a behind the scenes look on the inspiration for her book, we sat down with Alisyn Camerota and asked her about her work, her life & the book.  To buy the book, you can click Amanda Wakes Up.

As fate would have it, we are lucky 10 times over as this week CNN is featuring their Champions of Change series spotlighting charities supported by their news anchors.  Alisyn and I went on a medical mission in April with Operation Smile to Bogota, Colombia and the segment aired for the first time yesterday.  It will air several times this week, and the full special will air this Saturday, June 23rd at 8 p.m.EST on CNN. click to see the segment -- Champions of Change

Enjoy!  Lisa Lori

A Conversation with CNN's New Day Alisyn Camerota, Author of Amanda Wakes Up

1.When did you know you wanted to be a journalist?

 When I was 15 years old and sitting on the sofa after school watching Phil Donahue run around his studio audience with a microphone, I thought, what's THAT job called?

2. Tell us what you and Amanda have in common?

Well, have eerily similar career trajectories and job experiences. 

3. What advice do you have for young journalists today?

Always be open to having your mind blown by a new fact or perspective. 

4. Who are your (heroes) in real life?

Firefighters, police and emergency responders who run towards danger to save lives. 

5. What is your greatest extravagance? 

Fancy restaurants.  I just had an amazing meal at Chiltern Firehouse in London when I was covering the Royal Wedding.  It's possible I did a lousy job of converting from Euros to Dollars but I'd never seen that many digits on a dinner tab. 

6. Tell me about what you’re wearing & why red?

Ever since Amanda Wakes Up came out, I find myself wearing a lot of red.  It works with the cover of the book, as well as the themes of drama and heat and power -- all of which play in the plot. 

7. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
 "Let's fact-check this tweet."
 
8. What’s the quality you most like in a human?
Non-judgemental acceptance
 
9. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Having a happy family 
 
10. What is your motto? 
 
"To thine own self, be true."
 
 

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Meet Our New Executive Chef -- Chef Duane Shand

We are pleased to announce Chef Duane Shand has joined us as Executive Chef.  Born in Trinidad and a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Orlando, Florida, Chef Duane has worked at some of the world's leading restaurants including: Bad Saint in Washington DC, the Royal Mail Hotel in Australia, Asador Etxebarri in Spain, among others.  Below is an interview we did with Chef Duane so you could learn more about his culinary background and his work.

1)Tell us about your background — places you have lived, where you grew up

I am from Trinidad, a small island in the Caribbean. I moved at a young age to South Florida and lived in various parts of Florida until graduating from Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Orlando. After graduating, I moved to northern Virginia and worked at a small farm to table restaurant called Vermillion in Old Town,Alexandria. From there , I traveled to Australia to work for one of the best chefs in the country,Chef Dan Hunter at the Royal Mail Hotel. After returning I took a job back in Washington DC with chef Tony Conte at the oval room restaurant, working my way up to sous chef. I left after for a short stint in Spain at Asador Etxebarri. I traveled back to DC as a Chef de Cuisine of the Oval Room and later helped open an award winning Filipino restaurant called Bad Saint as the Sous Chef. 

2) When did you know you wanted to be a chef?

I kind of fell into the profession. I have always been cooking since I was young, helping my family in the kitchen. I originally went to school for business, after realizing it wasn’t for me, I attempted to take a year off of school. My father wouldn’t let me waste a way a year not doing anything, he suggested I try culinary school since I liked to cook. I enrolled shortly after and never looked back.

3) What inspires you?

I’m inspired from everything around me, I love traveling, learning about new cultures and eating new foods.

4) What is your culinary vision and favorite cuisine to make?

I would love to make West Indian food a more recognizable cuisine, I don’t get to cook it as often as I would like, but it’s definitely a part of my culinary influence. It is what I grew up on and the food I crave the most. Aside from that Asian food is my go to.

5) What appeals to you about The Perfect Provenance and being the executive chef?

The Perfect Provenance is very similar to what I would do if I opened my own place. Its like inviting people over for dinner. It’s small, intimate, and friendly. I prefer smaller restaurants, I think it allows me to have more of a connection with the people eating. 

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The Perfect Rewards Program Launches Today!

The Perfect Rewards Program Launches Today!

At The Perfect Provenance, we are so grateful for all of the incredible support of our Perfect Provenance & Cafe 47 clients.  We are proud to officially announce our new loyalty program that will reward you just for shopping, eating, special offers or attending events.  Here's how it works: Join The Perfect Provenance Rewards Program today and start earning points.  

 

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St. Bart's Strong

St. Bart's Strong

Beautiful Saline Beach in Saint Barths If you follow us on social media, you may have seen me posting photos from beautiful St. Barts. I have had several people reach out to ask me how the island is doing post Irma. This is my second trip since the hurricane, we also went for Thanksgiving week just weeks after the store.

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Operation Smile Bogota, Colombia Trip Interview with Rafa de la Sierra

Operation Smile Bogota, Colombia Trip Interview with Rafa de la Sierra

Lexi de la Sierra in Bogota Today's blog post features an interview with Rafa de la Sierra who went to Bogota last month with his daughter Lexi and his mother. The de la Sierra's have been our friends for many years and have supported all of our efforts with Operation Smile since we first began our journey supporting t...

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Operation Smile Medical Mission to Bogota Colombia

Operation Smile Medical Mission to Bogota Colombia

Last week I went to Bogota, Colombia with my youngest son Griffin Del on my second trip to attend a medical mission with international children's charity Operation Smile.  The last time I went was more than six years ago and it was amazing.  We went to David, Panama with my husband, my oldest son Zack and my best friend Kathy Van Zeeland.  We handed out our beloved Three Little Bears teddy bears to patients and their families, and we were thrilled to do the same in Colombia.

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Operation Smile Bogota Trip Interview with Old Greenwich Resident John Merrill

Operation Smile Bogota Trip Interview with Old Greenwich Resident John Merrill

In February, two Greenwich families went on a medical mission to Bogota, Colombia with Operation Smile.  Last week, we featured Greenwich High School senior Julia Merrill's interview, this week we asked her dad -- John Merrill the same questions about his experience, hope you enjoy it.

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Perfect Visit to NYC

Perfect Visit to NYC

Great Places to Shop, Eat & Drink in NYC
Last week our Perfect team checked out some old and new favorites for inspiration, fun and of course, shopping and eating. Here are some great places to visit next time you are in Manhattan.  

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Greenwich Families Medical Mission to Bogota, Colombia for Operation Smile

Greenwich Families Medical Mission to Bogota, Colombia for Operation Smile

Last week, two families from Greenwich -- the Merrill's & the De La Sierra's flew to Bogota, Colombia to attend a medical mission with Operation Smile.  They got to meet families, witness surgeries and meet some of the incredible volunteers who donate their time and expertise to Operation Smile.

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