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Cooking Up Goodness

Star chefs unite for two of the city’s philanthropic organizations.

Octavio Mantilla, Ti Martin and Neill Buie

Photographed by Melissa Calico

What happens when the country’s most celebrated chefs show their stuff and New Orleans’ best musicians join together for a worthy cause? Magic. This year, the John Besh Foundation and the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience collaborated to create a truly singular experience that included a celebrity chef food showcase and live music. James Beard Award-winning chef Michelle Bernstein prepared a banana pudding and a tres leches with bourbon gel. Opting for savory protein, Besh made slow roasted lamb with warm burrata and creamy McEwen’s polenta. Young Fellaz Brass Band performed for the VIP reception and the beginning of the party, while Kermit Ruffins headlined the evening. Following the event, the party moved to John Besh’s Borgne, where Mia Borders took the stage.

Notable items in the silent auction included a trip to Italy with a weeklong stay in a Florence villa and a dinner for 20 hosted by chefs John Besh and Aaron Sanchez. The event raised roughly $100,000 for The John Besh Foundation and for NOWFE’s 2013 dedicated initiatives.

NOWFE works directly with area kitchens such as Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana to combat hunger and propagate culinary education in the New Orleans region. The John Besh foundation will use the proceeds from the event to fund two Chefs Move! scholarships that will allow the recipients to attend the International Culinary Center in New York City. The two recipients this year, Lashandra Robinson and Kieu Tran, have recently moved to New York and began class in late July. During the event, NOWFE also honored Ms. Leah Chase, chef and owner of Dooky Chase Restaurant, with The Ella Brennan Lifetime Achievement in Hospitality Award.

Event at a Glance

What: “Funkin’ It Up,” benefiting The John Besh Foundation and the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience
When: Saturday, May 25
Where: Hyatt Regency

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