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How Two Gang Members Are Bringing Communities Together Through Food

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“I think world problems could be solved through food,” Malachi “Spank” Jenkins says. “If the countries could just sit down to eat, it would save the world.”

The role of a nice meal in calming conflict isn’t just an abstract idea to Jenkins. He and his partner Roberto “News” Smith come from gangs that are technically at odds — now, they’ve teamed up to run the Trap Kitchen, an underground restaurant and catering service, operating throughout Los Angeles and Orange County CA.

The philosophy of the business is simple: Take the hustler’s mentality that the two men often witnessed growing up in Compton (also home to some great food) and apply it to serving meals to the hungry masses. The Southern-inspired soul food shows up on Instagram and orders are placed via text message. Catering gigs are booked the same way. There’s no brick and mortar (yet) — it’s all about checking in on Insta. But just like the underground music scene, there’s an allure to that.

“We’re still relevant because we’re underground,” Jenkins says. “Social media is a free market and it works for us, period.”

The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive — making word of mouth the team’s real strong suit. Here’s why: Jenkins and Smith, longtime friends, can flat out cook. Jenkins actually did a stint at Le Cordon Bleu in Las Vegas.



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