The Chili Dance

It’s not often that one sees gratitude expressed in movement but that is precisely what the team from AQUA by El Gaucho experienced September 28th at Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission (UGM). While the group performed their usual last-Wednesday-of-the-month ritual, serving chili to hungry mouths at UGM, they saw something delightfully unusual: The Chili Dance.

With the essentials in tow: corn bread, sour cream, tortilla chips, shredded cheese, onions, and of course chili, Chef Levine and General Manager Sivi Mennen led the team of volunteers into the shelter. The assembly line mimicked that of our own exhibition kitchen, everyone with an important task working together smoothly in a machine-like way.

Catherine dried the trays and filled them with chips, Linda sliced the corn bread, Niles scooped the chili into bowls, Sivi added the onions and cheese, and Sidonie finished the meal with a dollop of sour cream. All the while Chef Levine and Eric tirelessly stirred the chili so it didn’t burn and refilled the line until they fed all 200 mouths.

Each person who received their bowl of chili was incredibly grateful – you could feel it in their eyes, you could hear it in each thoughtful “thank you,” and you could see it in one woman’s dance. After receiving her bowl, this spirited woman proceeded to break into a rhythmic movement, chanting that our chili was so good it made her do her “chili dance.” While she stomped her feet and clapped her hands a giant smile spread across her face. Needless to say, it was contagious and left the AQUA team beaming from ear to ear. She continued the joyful, hopping motion all the way to her seat and in true El Gaucho style was celebrating life in that very moment.

It’s hard to describe exactly what the dance looked like or to put into words the joy it brought to our team members. We can only hope that the team from AQUA will see the same, happy dance from that delightfully spirited woman again when they serve chili at the end of this month.

AQUA by El Gaucho and El Gaucho Seattle serve lunch at Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission every last Wednesday and Thursday of the month. We are incredibly thankful for our partnership with this powerful and progressive organization. Visit their site for more information: Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission.

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