Several recent volcanic eruptions on the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent have resulted in mass evacuations and destruction on an enormous scale. A significant portion of the population is now being housed in emergency temporary accommodation. The usually idyllic nation now exists under a blanket of volcanic ash, and more than a third of the island’s agriculture has been wiped out.
Chef James Cochran, who runs the exceptionally good 12:51 on Islington’s Upper Street, has strong links to the Caribbean (his mum was born there). He’s now started two initiatives to raised money for the victim of the eruptions.
You can donate to the St Vincent Volcano Relief Fund (set up by James) here. Whoever donates the most before May 18 will get a free tasting menu for two at 12:51. And you can order the St Vincent and Grenadines Burger Special. Every penny spent on it will go to the victims of the disaster. What’s in it, you ask? You got your buttermilk fried chicken, your chicken-fat-pressed potato, your chicken-gravy mayo, some 12:51 Scotch Bonnet Jam and of course Red Stripe beer onions. It’s a beaut and it can be ordered for takeaway or delivery right here. I literally just ordered one. It was very nice.
‘For those of you who know me you’ll likely know the island and its people mean everything to me,’ said James. ‘Its culture and heritage has helped shape the man I am today. Growing up in the small seaside town of Whitstable, there wasn’t much of a black or Afro-Caribbean crowd. My mum was born and raised in a shanty town near Calliaqua in St Vincent and thought it was integral for me to understand my roots. From the age of seven, we would go to visit every other year: the island became another version of home to me... Now, its people are suffering. They’ve lost everything. Approximately 20,000 people have been evacuated from their homes and are being forced to live in overcrowded shelters. There is no clean drinking water, food and essentials are running low – it’s devastating. And we want to help.’
James is also asking all UK restaurants to donate a one quid from every bottle of wine sold from now until May 18. At the end, 12:51 will match the amount raised, hopefully hitting the £10k target.