Navy Pier chef feeds migrants arriving in Chicago


CHICAGO — The chef of a renowned Navy Pier restaurant teamed up with the city of Chicago to help feed a new contingent of migrants that arrived in Chicago Monday.

Chef Art Smith of Reunion Restaurant said he got the call from city hall at around 11 a.m. Monday that two buses of migrants were in need of being fed.

“When the mayor’s office reached out to me today and said ‘Art, we’ve got people to feed,’” Smith said. “I said, I’m your man.”

By 5 p.m., Smith and his kitchen staff had prepared food for nearly 200 asylum-seekers, doing so with a focus on the food being familiar.

“I want to welcome them,” said Jesus Salgueiro, Smith’s husband. “And what would be better than a homemade arepa to make them feel at home?”

Salgueiro immigrated to Chicago from Venezuela 40 years ago and can sympathize with the emotions experienced by those arriving in the city for the first time.

“I think it’s frightening to come to a new place,” Smith said. “But the city has worked very hard with area shelters and other groups to really make sure that these people are taken care of.”

According to city officials, Chicago has welcomed more than 3,400 asylum seekers since they started arriving by bus from the Texas border.

City officials also said they are looking for donations for asylum-seekers, specifically, winter gear like coats, hats and gloves. If you have interest in donating, you can visit or

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