No matter what you may think of vegan food (Apple Eats’s own resident guinea pig Margaret Whitfield weighed in on favorably on faux gras), the vegan menu at the soon-to-be-defunct Handsome Her Café in Melbourne, Australia was only half the establishment’s politics. The restaurant made waves upon its opening two years ago when, according to the Evening Standard, “it announced it would offer women priority seating and charge men an 18 per cent premium to ‘reflect the gender pay gap’.”
Co-owner Alexandra O’Brien has not detailed the reason behind the move, but Handsome Her has endured a widespread backlash for its perceived reverse sexism.
In a post entitled ‘A Handsome Farewell’, Ms O’Brien wrote: “It’s been a wild journey to say the least. When we opened Handsome Her in 2017, we expected that perhaps we might make a stir through our brazen public discussions of structural inequality and oppression.”
The café, which is scheduled to close its doors permanently this coming Sunday, is not the only restaurant to serve politics with its food. A year ago, I reported on a New Orleans eatery where the food you are served depends on your “privilege.” At Saartj, white customers pay an amount for their food that is two and one-half times greater than what black customers pay. But there is an “out” clause in the restaurant’s philosophy. White customers who object to the policy are invited to pay the same amount.
The restaurant, which opened a satellite in Detroit, is alive and prospering. Maybe the lesson is that while it is permissible to mix food and politics, chefs should take a sparing hand with the latter.