Chef Steve McHugh is a survivor of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and he also happens to run one of San Antonio’s hottest restaurants, Cured. On September 9, Steve will be hosting the fourth-annual Cured for a Cure, a dinner featuring dishes from some of the region’s finest chefs.
The three-time James Beard Award finalist for Best Chef: Southwest will be joined by chefs Kelly Fields (New Orleans’ Willa Jean), Aaron Franklin (Austin’s Franklin Barbecue), Justin Yu (Houston’s Theodore Rex) and Bruce Auden (San Antonio’s Biga on the Banks), and all proceeds from the dinner will be donated to Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Last year’s event raised more than $81,000 for the organization.
Tickets to the event cost $350 per person, and include valet parking, a welcome reception with passed hors d’oeuvres, and a five-course dinner with wine pairings; they can be purchased here.
We recently had the opportunity to speak with chef McHugh via email about the dinner’s inspiration, what guests can expect, and what keeps him inspired.
What inspired you to begin hosting this dinner?
Having survived Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma myself, there is obviously that personal history that has inspired me to support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Without LLS, I wouldn’t be here today. But in giving back to that organization as a board member to the South Texas Chapter of LLS, I wanted to do it in a way that I know best. I wasn’t going to go out and run a marathon, or go door-to-door. I decided I wanted to raise money and give back to the society in a way that made sense to me. Cooking for others in itself is an offering, so cooking for a cause just made a lot of sense. On a totally different level, I enjoy bringing these talented chefs from all over the country to Cured to work together with my staff. It’s so educational and special having my staff learn from so many different people that I respect in this industry.
The name “Cured” obviously has more than one meaning.
Yes, Cured speaks to both my own successful battle with cancer and the signature charcuterie plates that we serve. Though my doctor always reminds me that I’m not “cured” but rather I am in remission. Remission doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue quite like Cured though.
What can guests at the event expect? Has the menu been finalized yet?
While the menu has not been finalized quite yet, guests can expect a special collaboration between myself and four incredibly talented yet different chefs.
Aaron Franklin will be bringing a smoker down from Austin and he plans to incorporate his world class barbecue into the dinner.
Kelly Fields is someone who I admire so much and whom I worked with many years ago in New Orleans. She’s become one of the premier pastry chefs, not only in the south but in the world. It’s just so fun being around her because she’s so incredibly good at what she does.
Justin Yu is one of those chefs who I just think is way ahead of his time in the way he approaches vegetables. He lets them star in dishes and he’ll be bringing that energy to Cured for a Cure.
And finally, Bruce Auden is one of the original chefs here in San Antonio who put our city on the map. He is super decorated. But what I really love about Bruce is his kindness and generosity. I’ll tell a story to animate this. When [my wife] Sylvia and I moved to San Antonio I got a random call from Bruce saying, “Hey, I know you’re new to town and I would like to invite you to my big 4th of July party.” I had never met the guy, and in the competitive world of being a professional chef, it is so rare for someone to reach out to the new guy in town like that and just invite them to a party. It really stood out to me and since then we’ve remained good friends. He’s been a mentor and he’s someone I can always turn to if I have questions. I’m so excited to have all 4 of these talented chefs and wonderful people joining me for Cured for a Cure 2018. It’s going to be a special night.
How will the proceeds be used?
Honestly, that is up to LLS. Last year because we raised over $50K the proceeds funded a grant. I hope to break $50K again this year, but we’ll see what happens.
What inspires you every day to keep cooking and to stay so involved with charity?
I really enjoy taking care of other people. Watching my guests enjoy themselves at our restaurant in the company of their friends, family, and colleagues just honestly makes me smile every day. And because cooking in itself is about nurturing and giving to others, it makes sense for us as chefs and restaurant owners to get involved in charity. You know, I’m not here today without the help of charity. If other people hadn’t gotten involved before me, than there might have never been a Cured. So I just feel that it is my job to continue to spread the word to others through food about the importance of giving back. We do it every day at Cured and Cured for a Cure is just a big celebration of that. It’s one of my favorite nights of the year.