Serving up comfort food after a tragedy
April 18th, 2013
03:30 PM ET
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Chefs with Issues is a platform for chefs and farmers we love, fired up for causes about which they're passionate. Jason Bond is the chef at Bondir in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Follow him on Twitter @jwadebond.

The day started with the Boston Marathon and a state holiday. It ended in tragedy and left residents, like me, with so many unanswered questions.

Why would someone attack an event that was about celebration, one where many of the thousands of participants were raising money for over two thousand charities? Why would they use such a ferocious method as bombs packed with ball bearings and nails?

In the span of 15 seconds, three people lost their lives. Hundreds of others, from the injured and their families to those who witnessed the blast firsthand, were cruelly ripped from the lives they'd always known and forced into a darker view of the world. The residents of Boston were shocked, sickened and even pissed off.

Most of us felt helpless, but wanted to be of use. The city and its people quickly mobilized to help each other. Boston is tight and takes care of its own.

We realized that we each help by doing what we do; medics medicate, journalists report, the police protect. As a restaurateur I did what I do, which is care for people and provide sustenance and healing.

As a cook, I wanted to be open and offer care to the people in my neighborhood who needed the comfort, distraction, a meal, a break. We were all shaking, but we could be shaken together. As a business owner, it was no time to make a profit, so the entire sales of that night were given to help aid the people and the families who were affected by those bombs a few hours before. More will be given as we go forward.

My decision to stay open, (although I let all but the core staff go home to be with people they cared about) was based on what I think I do for a living, what I have to offer my community. I am in the business of providing comfort.

The goal of my cooking is connection and nurturing. Whether a person's need stems from "I’m hungry" or the desire to smile, I want to provide care for them. In my mind, the perfect meal is the one where Grandma cuts the asparagus (or sends me out to cut it, as was more often the case), cooks it and serves it directly. It is that level of contact, both on a personal level and with the food, that I hope comes across in the meals that I serve.

At Bondir, we make a point of learning about who our guests are and where they are coming from, geographically. But more importantly, we want to know them personally. We want to be able to have a connection, to use the opportunity to create warmth and create a memory of comfort that they can take with them when they leave.

A meal is communication. If one can speak clearly, one of the positive results is a resonance in the community; a way to show support for your community. A chef has a voice that carries and his or her actions can move others to act, or give direction or information that they did not have before. It can sing a song, paint a picture, tell a joke or inspire an emotion. It can also just hold you and let you know that someone gives a damn. That was my role here in Boston on that night.

Find out how you can help the people of Boston at CNN's Impact Your World

More on food, grieving and comfort:

Boston restaurants suffer loss in wake of bombing
Serving up gratitude in troubled times
Bringing healing to Newtown, one pie at a time
Filling the void – eating after a funeral
Roasted chicken soup for the banged-up soul
Pouring whiskey in the wound – eating and drinking after 9/11

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Filed under: Boston • Chefs • Chefs with Issues • Culture • Feed the Soul • Restaurant News • Restaurants • Rituals • Travel

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soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Fitness Events 2014

    Great job! This was my favorite line "The city and its people quickly mobilized to help each other. Boston is tight and takes care of its own."

    January 29, 2014 at 9:16 pm |
  2. Gayle Liriano

    Just wondering, before I consider subscribing... is that this an actual, individually composed letter to every single subscriber, or does just about every writer compose a single letter each individual week and send the same composition to all from the subscribers they're assigned to write to?

    November 13, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
  3. iuvetravel

    for more about food and travel just follow the trail

    May 5, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
  4. taniko

    I really like what you did... but posting it here almost sounds like an advertisement. So of mixed thoughts at the moment.

    April 22, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
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