The struggle against Lupi has not been forgotten about.
Since our day in court with Akef in October, we’ve kept our publishing about the dispute to a minimum, working in the background, but working nonetheless. We didn’t approach media, didn’t carry out actions, and kept our website down during the negotiations as a show of goodwill, taking the opportunity to build our image back from scratch. Akef had his own idea of goodwill, of course, opting to show none whatsoever.
Although we won the court case handily, being brought to court was in itself costly. In order to raise funds, we decided, as a horeca union with chefs and cooks at its helm, that it made sense to run a voku or two. After reaching out to a few places in Amsterdam, we settled on a tour of three dates.
The film advertised was supposed to be the Boos! episode dealing with Lupi Coffee due to be broadcast just before the first voku. However, this episode took a while to see the light of day, thanks to Akef’s, and his mouthpiece Nico Schraag’s, reluctance to negotiate with the presenter, Tim Hofman, who had also recently had his life threatened.
We gave a speech between the main course and dessert at each voku with a quick rundown of who we are, what had happened so far with the Lupi conflict, and why we needed financial support. We stressed that the funds go first and foremost to the workers before we save anything for future actions. We’d hung posters around the room at each voku with a QR code to make donating easy.
All of the dishes were our own vegan recipes. We tried to source as many ingredients as possible for cheap or free, relying on connections at workplaces and saving ageing vegetables from going to waste.
Joe’s Garage, 16th October
- Lentil soup with a garnish of roasted granola, olive oil, sumac, and a basil leaf
- Deconstructed ratatouille with a miroir of horseradish béchamel and carrot crudités
- Apple crumble with a quenelle of fortified soy vla and lime zest
We only managed to get a photo of the soup from this voku (we’re a horeca union, not a photographers’ union). We showed
MKZ, 4th November
- Sweetcorn soup with a garnish of sumac, coriander, and radish, with sourdough bruschetta
- Aubergine three ways with rice, chickpeas, and tempeh
- Apple & pear “Hartley”: a miroir of crème anglaise, a bed of smoked lemon crumble, torched pear, blanched and torched apple, a whisky and orange glaze, with a garnish of pink peppercorns
A few diners from the previous voku joined us again for the second instalment of the tour. We didn’t have a film to show, but the food made up for that. A local chef and artist joined our ranks to help us run the vokus, and many hands make light work. We spent around €20 on ingredients, a vast improvement on the previous €80 spend.
MKZ, 11th November
- Parsnip soup with napa cabbage and croutons
- Polenta with fennel, napa coleslaw, broccoli, black salsify, and champignon mushrooms
- Lemon and black pepper spongecake with sumac buttercream and confited orange
We’d built something of a reputation by this point, as diners from the previous vokus had taken to inviting their friends thanks to the quality of the food. We got a round of applause from the diners when we announced that Akef had failed to defeat us with his court case. We spent but a few euro on ingredients overall, and the two vokus at MKZ brought us €650 plus donations.
MKZ, 15th December
- “Sorry, Italians” basil & mint rice pudding with tomato & lime coulis
- Ciambelline al vino with juniper cream and candied oranges
- “Bad apples & gebakken peren”: shallow-poached apples and pears, applesauce, red wine & clove reduction, juniper cream, and biscuit crumble
We decided to start playing with themes for the fourth voku, starting with a 3-course menu of desserts. We got a small turnout this time, said to be due to the voku being on a Friday, when no one is expecting one, and due to a spike in covid cases. We spent around €50 and took in around €100. The Boos! episode covering the conflict had come out the day before, so we were able to finally show it. We got a lot of good engagement with the diners, who were curious to hear about the cause.
On the day of the hearing in the Hague, Akef tried to provoke our members as they stood outside the courthouse showing solidarity.
His entourage was filming as he did so and so our members began to film too. Obviously it was an attempt to rile our members up so that they’d react in anger and do something rash. They didn’t. Akef asked them whether they had anything better to do, whether they had jobs, why they were standing around all day. Our members, themselves working people, replied that solidarity never stops. Akef asked why they were bothering, and what the case had to do with them. Our members replied that working people help each other. Akef blurted: “I work.” So we ask: and who do you help?
Our tour of vokus has stood clear testament to this: working people help each other. Our members have brought their skills to create a simple but impressive offering of their well-honed craft in exchange for a show of solidarity through not just donations, but sympathising with and helping us to spread the word of our cause, and all in service of helping workers fight against unruly bosses.
Another thing that the run of vokus has made clear to us is that it’s much better to have a fund in place before you’re taken to court by an egotist than to have to recuperate funds after the fact. That’s why, beginning in the new year, we’ll be holding a fundraiser on the last Saturday of every month, and without the pressure of a court case (hopefully), we’ll be experimenting with how we do it exactly. If you’d like to get involved, do get in touch! If you’d like to stay informed, keep an eye on Radar! If you’d like to help otherwise, consider donating!