The best way to raise money for a charitable cause is usually to feed people well. Sure raffles, auctions, and other stunts will attract "customers" but the idea of eating is appealing to everyone. As a chef I am lucky to be involved in so many different fundraisers throughout the year. Some I do on the curtails of the company, while others are personal decisions, done on my own time. Cannon Beach children's center, Clatsop County Food Bank, Clatsop County United Way, Seaside Heights Elementary, Seaside High Prostart, Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association, Oregon Zoo, and the Make a Wish Foundation are all causes that I have executed food for in the last year. While the swaray of the actual events isn't always attended by me personally, my food or the restaurant's food is often called upon to help these causes. As chefs the requests can get frustrating. As a company we have to have some boundaries, some causes that we focus on, and others horribly we have to decline. At the end of the day food isn't free, or even cheap, and neither is the labor of those individuals involved. Add to that the removal of one or more of your key staff members for an evening, transportation, rooms to stay in the city as needed, etc and you have a huge financial obligation for a business that operates on an extremely slim profit margin in the best case scenario. We simply can't be involved in every event we are invited to.
Tomorrow I am cooking a benefit dinner solo, off the company clock at Broadway Middle School in Seaside for a 13 yr old girl who just had a brain tumor removed, and is now on a chemotherapy schedule that will last until she is out of high school. She is the sister of one of my best friends, and I can't help but to get emotional thinking about the road to recovery she will have to endure for years to come. As a parent, the thought of having a child in that situation is sickening, and my thoughts go out to any of you who have had to endure the loss, or extended recovery of a loved one. Anything I can do to help this family is still not enough. We talked earlier this month about the logistics of making an event like this happen, and I agreed to call in some big favors. The kitchen at Broadway was donated as she is a student there, a kitchen that I hadn't seen until this afternoon, and we are expecting about 240ppl. The menu will be as simple as we could pull off. A choice of roasted prime rib, or roasted chicken, potatoes, asparagus, and a dinner roll all for the cool price of $20/ per person. While the menu doesn't push any sort of culinary boundaries it is extremely important in situations like this to appeal to the general public. A time to execute the food perfectly, not a time to show off my ego.
Graciously I had a few purveyors that ponied up big to help me with this. Local potatoes, and local asparagus were donated, and Prime rib was sold to me for cost, and two each of the ten ribs I bought were donated. Chicken was sold at cost as well. I am fortunate to have these people on my side, who at the drop of a hat will blow my mind with generosity. Purveyors who stear me in the right direction anytime I go looking for some crazy off the wall cut of meat or piece of produce. Purveyors whom I have been crafting a relationship with for years now. When you are in charge of purchasing what I purchase, and require it to be received in the shape I demand, these relationships are worth their weight in gold.
Often in the past I have thought that my career would take me anywhere I wanted to go. Melissa and I have always been precarious about owning a home or anything else that would really strap us down in this community, as my work options, if not for the company I am with now, are extremely limited here in our little corner of Oregon. More and more though I come to the realization that I am here for a reason. Like my purveyors, my relationships in the community run very deep. I am flattered and honored to be asked to execute this event for this girl and family that are in such need. I am grateful that I get to cook the meal in a kitchen, in the same school that I attended as a 7th and 8th grader. I feel more gratification readying and executing a meal like this than I do doing almost any other type of event in my line of work. I am proud to be part of this community, and proud that I can help those in need with the talents that everyone presumes I have. Now I just have to not screw it up. Thanks for reading.