NEW ORLEANS - Chef Alon Shaya showed a crowd of more than 1,000 people how to make his award-winning tahini hummus. Chef Andrea Apuzzo made cannelloni, Leah Chase and her grandson Dook stewed okra and John Besh made dessert.
But the 40th annual Chefs' Charity for Children event on Thursday was about much more than just food. It was about a labor of love, presented annually by the superstar chefs of New Orleans, to raise funds for St. Michael Special School, the Catholic school which has educated local children and adults with special needs for more than 50 years.
The event on Thursday at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside drew a crowd of close to 1,000 people who watched each of the dozen or so chefs in attendance prepare one of their dishes. Then the crowd was treated to a buffet lunch sampling each of the dishes.
There was also a special presentation honoring the 40th anniversary, featuring two of the original chefs: Goffredo Fraccaro and Gunter Preuss, as well as former participant Willy Coln, and other longtime supporters. The event was founded by legendary chef Warren Leruth, and his longtime friend, WWL-TV legend Phil Johnson, who devised the event as a fundraiser for St. Michael, the school that was founded in 1965 by Sister Lillian McCormack, S.S.N.D.
The event has gone on to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the school in the years since and remains the school's biggest fundraiser. Several of the students were on hand to assist with the event. Handmade crafts and art items made by the students are sold at the event as well. One lucky student even got to come on stage and assist as Chef Shaya prepared his dish.
The lineup of chefs included: Justin Devillier of La Petite Grocery; John Besh of Restaurant August and the Besh Restaurant Group; Alon Shaya of Shaya and Domenica; Nina Compton of Compere Lapin; Greg Reggio of Zea, Semolina and Mizado; Andrea Apuzzo of Andrea's; David Slater of Emeril's; Tory McPhail of Commander's Palace; The Wong Brothers of Trey Yuen; Leah Chase and Edgar Dook Chase IV of Dooky Chase; and John Folse of Restaurant R'Evolution.
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