South Philly Barbacoa owners honored at Spring Supper 2019

Sunday Suppers, a Philadelphia nonprofit that uses food, education and community-building to strengthen the health and well-being of families struggling with poverty and food insecurity,is honoring South Philly Barbacoa owners Cristina Martinez and Ben Mille at their annual fundraiser. The couple and their restaurant have gained national recognition, with features in Bon Appetit and, most recently, on Netflix’s renowned Chef’s Table, as well as for their advocacy for immigrants’ rights.

The theme of this year’s Spring Supper is “Building Bridges,” emphasizes how food universally brings people and cultures together to create understanding, connection, and lasting relationships, just as Cristina and Ben build bridges between cultures through the food they serve. The event will take place on Tuesday, April 16th, 6-8:30pm, at  FAME, the industrial-chic event venue developed by Shift Capital in collaboration with Feast Your Eyes Catering in the art district of North Kensington. The fete is open to the public; tickets can be purchased here.

“Our annual springtime celebration is modeled after our weekly program, with dinner served family-style to bring our guests together as they share great food and conversation,” said Linda Samost, Founder and Director, Sunday Suppers. “Cristina and Ben understand that sitting together to share a meal can lead to transformational change on many levels, and we are honoring them this year for their commitment to using the power of food to bring communities together, bridge cultures, and support the underserved.”

Cristina Martinez was born in Capulhuac, the barbacoa capital of Mexico. She and her husband Ben Miller met while working at Amis and married in 2012. Cristina soon began preparing barbacoa and selling it out of their home. A food truck followed and, when they had saved enough, they opened a storefront. Last year, they opened South Philly Barbacoa in the Italian Market. Their restaurant was named the sixth best new restaurant by Bon Appetit in 2016, and Cristina was featured on Netflix's Chef’s Table and Ugly Delicious in 2018. The couple is committed to community, diversity, respect, and celebrating the gifts that immigrants bring, especially to the food industry. They are building bridges through their food and through their employment and support of immigrants in their restaurant.

“It’s not just about making delicious fare, but bringing people together,” said Cristina Martinez, co-owner of South Philly Barbacoa. “Just like in Mexico, we serve only on weekends, because it serves as a weekly gathering place for family and friends.” 

Ben Miller, co-owner of South Philly Barbacoa, added, “This is something we share with Sunday Suppers; their program brings families together to gather, creates relationships, and uses food to build bridges.”

Following the traditional Sunday Suppers model, Spring Supper guests will be served a healthy and delicious three-course meal around a family table. In addition to Cristina & Ben being honored, guests will hear from a Sunday Suppers family about the impact the organization has had on their lives. The event will also feature silent and live auctions, in which guests can bid on a variety of experiences and items. All proceeds from the event will support the organization as it plans to expand to a third Philadelphia location in order to serve even more local low-income families. Sunday Suppers’ currently operates two sites and their goal is to open a new site each year.