Now this is a delicious development.
After reading my column about a South Philadelphia restaurant selling bread pudding in support of an immigrant family seeking sanctuary at a local church, Di Bruno Bros. will also start selling the family dessert in their Rittenhouse Square location starting this weekend through April.
The co-owners of East Passyunk Avenue’s Le Virtù, Francis Cratil-Cretarola and Catherine Lee, have been offering the Thompson family’s bread pudding at their restaurant since the beginning of the month, with all proceeds from the sales going to the family.
Oneita Thompson learned the recipe over a charcoal fire in an island nation she and her husband, Clive, fled in 2004 after gangs burned their farm and threatened their lives. Facing deportation after building a life in the U.S., which they entered on visitor visas, they sought refuge last year at the First United Methodist Church of Germantown, where they’ve since lived with their two teenage children.
Their 16-year-old daughter, Christine, who was born in the U.S., took the cherished family recipe to the South Philadelphia restaurant, where she taught chef Damon Menapace how to make the sweet concoction, which includes cherries and raisins soaked in white rum and red wine.
He’ll continue to make it for the restaurant and for Di Bruno Bros., which thrilled the family.
“We are very excited!” Oneita Thompson texted after she heard the news.
Cratil-Cretarola, the grandchild of Italian immigrants, and Lee, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, have long been advocates of immigrant rights and immigration policy reform that directly affects many of their Mexican staff, who are more family than employees.
Some diners weren’t pleased to see “Sanctuary Bread Pudding” on the menu, but a lot more — like Di Bruno Bros.' Emilio Mignucci — were supportive.
Immigration is the backbone of Di Bruno Bros., said Mignucci, one of the owners of the third-generation business started by Italian immigrants.
“We have always felt that we were lucky enough because of timing — a lot of it is timing,” he said. “Then, there weren’t as many issues as there are today. Today there’s a lot to be worrisome about with terrorism and the way things are happening around the world, but I still think that without a break, without good people getting a break, they could never better themselves or their family’s lives.”
The message he hopes to send by selling the Thompson family bread pudding is simple, he said.
“There’s value in people.”
To purchase a piece of Sanctuary Bread Pudding, stop in at Le Virtù at 1927 E. Passyunk Ave. or at Di Bruno’s at 1730 Chestnut St.