Fine fare for a good cause

I am pinching myself. Seven of the South’s finest chefs are coming to Nashville next week to cook for a good cause… namely me.

That’s me as in the Community Resource Center. The event also benefits Mobile Loaves and Fishes, which fed more than 19,000 flood victims and relief workers in the aftermath of the flood. As for CRC, we are still going at flood relief. In addition to our emergency supplies warehouse at A+ Storage, we’ve just opened a second warehouse at Junior Achievement for furniture. So far we’ve distributed more than $3 million in relief and recovery supplies.

But enough about all this flood stuff. Let’s talk about food! My good friend, Thomas Williams, just called me up out of the blue right after the flood and offered to organize a benefit, Taking Nashville to Higher Ground. That’s Thomas sitting in our temporary warehouse. Not only was Thomas willing to spend his time trying to help two charities but he brought me presents – a package of Benton’s Smoked Bacon and chocolate milk from Cruze Dairy. Don’t you just love a man who brings bacon to a business meeting?

It turns out Thomas has some very influential friends. Chef friends. Chef friends with big hearts. Chef friends who have won James Beard awards and have appeared on Food Network and have won “best chef” awards from prestigious food magazines. Just check out who’s coming to cook us dinner.

We have John Fleer, the chef at Lonesome Valley in Cashiers, N.C., and the former long-time chef at Blackberry Farm. We have John Currence, the chef/owner of City Grocery in Oxford, Mississippi. We have Lee Richardson, the chef at the Capital Hotel in Little Rock. We have Linton Hopkins, the chef/owner of Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta. We have Kelly English, chef/owner of Restaurant Iris in Memphis. We have Nick Seabergh, chef at Giardina’s in Greenwood, Mississippi. And we have David Gaus, the renowned pastry chef and author of DamGoodSweet: Desserts to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth New Orleans Style.

The menu is going to be yummy – hors ‘d ouvres to start, of course. Then a salad composed of a pate of Tennessee foie gras, watermelon and ginger. Next, gulf shrimp with avocado, smoked bacon and grilled romaine, followed by buttermilk-glazed sunburst trout with tomato and cornbread panzanella. Then an heirloom chicken thigh with creamed sweet corn and lady pea salad. Next a butter-braised chuck short rib with bacon smashed potatoes. And, finally, Cruze Farm’s buttermilk panna cotta with chilled blackberry soup and bourbon-poached peaches.

Does that not just sound scrumptious? The chefs are using all locally sourced ingredients. Farm to table.

Anyone who appreciates regional Southern cuisine will want to get in on this. The master of ceremonies is John Egerton, the noted historian, food writer, and author of Southern Food. There will also be a live and silent auction of all kinds of delicious food-related items.

Taking Nashville to Higher Ground is Tuesday, July 13, at the Cannery Ballroom with cocktail hour starting at 6:30 and dinner at 7:30. Tickets are $155 each, 80 percent of which is tax deductible. You know you want tickets. Here’s how to get them.

Fine fare for a good cause

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