Chefs Who Give: The Ones Who Throw Events

A three-part look at how chefs give back at home and around the country

One of the pitmasters at Chris Shepard's Southern Smoke event prepares the meat for sampling.

This is the first in a three-part series about how chefs give back to their neighborhoods and beyond. Stay tuned over the next two days for more.

Chefs are some of the most charitable people around. Whether they’re giving their time and resources while serving food at an event, or providing gift certificates and cash donations to charitable endeavors, giving back to their communities has become an expected obligation for any restaurant, regardless of size or location. Chefs can be extremely passionate about a cause and want to use their voices and patrons as a platform to support causes that are important to them.

Over the next three days, we’re going to look at how chefs give back in their neighborhoods and beyond. First up: the events. There’s nothing like a large gathering of like-minded individuals to inspire a community – and raise some serious money.

A Fish Stew Fundraiser, Oct. 30 – Nov. 5: Often, when there is a large-scale tragedy or natural disaster, chefs across the country band together to assist. Residents of eastern North Carolina are still dealing with the aftermath of flooding caused by Hurricane Matthew. The host of PBS’s A Chef’s Life, Vivian Howard, called for chefs to serve a local fish stew for one week, with proceeds benefiting the region. The area is still reeling, and it needs money and support. For the fish stew recipe and to learn more, click here.

Boudin, Bourbon, and Beer, Nov. 4: Every November, the Emeril Lagasse Foundation invites dozens of top chefs and musicians to come to New Orleans and raise money for his charity. This year’s lineup features chefs including Top Chef alumnu Edward Lee and Justin Devillier; Michael Gulotta of New Orleans’ MoPho restaurant; James Beard Award-winners John Currence and Donald Link; and many more. For more information, click here.

Southern Smoke, Nov. 6: The brainchild of Underbelly’s Chris Shepherd, Southern Smoke takes place in early November to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Shepherd has assembled a team of southern chefs and pitmasters including Aaron Franklin of Austin’s Franklin Barbecue; Rodney Scott of South Carolina’s Scott’s B-B-Q; and Tandy Wilson of Nashville’s City House. Together, they will serve up delicious barbecue, oysters, and more. Shepherd started the event after a close friend was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and hopes to raise more than $200,000 at this year’s event. For more information, click here.

Chefs Cycle for No Kid Hungry: The fundraising endurance race gets chefs out of the kitchen and onto their bikes to help end childhood hunger. This year, 125 chefs biking either a three-day route through California or a 100-mile ride in Dallas have raised more than $1 million for the campaign. For more information, click here.


Stir the Pot Dinner Series: A long-time supporter of the Southern Foodways Alliance, Ashley Christensen periodically organizes special dinners called Stir the Pot at her Raleigh-based restaurants. She invites Southern chefs who are big advocates of their respective regions and are also dedicated to preserving Southern food culture. All of the money raised benefits programs designated by the SFA. Stay tuned to the SFA website or Christensen’s restaurant pages for more information.