2024 Chefs' Feast Raises Close to 600K For Low Country Food Bank

Annual Fundraiser Just One of Several Ways Local Food & Beverage Community Support Ongoing Mission To Combat Hunger

Jeff Walker, Food & Beverage Writer 

While the Low Country Food Banks 25th annual Chefs' Feast is already in the books, the yearly February gala is the organization's signature fundraising event, helping raise awareness for childhood hunger. This year was no different, with more than 500 guests attending. aaaaaaaalcfbfeast241 1

On the final Sunday in February, 25 chefs and the renowned restaurants they represent, along with the staff from Low Country Food Bank gathered together at Trident Technical College to host an epic night of fine cuisine, adult beverages, music, and a live auction with all the proceeds benefitting the cause. Although the event is dressy and festive, every guest and every corporate sponsor attending understands the reason they are there.

As attendees work the room, filling up on the likes of braised short ribs, seared seafood sausage sliders, waygu meatloaf, bourbon glazed pork belly, and sauteed shrimp, as well as key lime pie, Italian rainbow cookies, and a bevy of chocolate delights from Charleston Chocolatiers, the LCFB delight in how much money is being raised to combat food insecurity for kids in the local community.

Despite the glitz and glamour the Chefs' Feast presents, the celebration is two-fold. First off, it's to raise funds to help feed children who otherwise might go hungry. That alone is reason enough. However, due to the continual support of the local sponsors, it's a way to say thanks to those companies and their employees for being diligent throughout the year. aaaaaaaachefs248

Among the local businesses that step up every year are corporate sponsors Atlas Tech, a veteran owned small business specializing in network technology and network management. LCFB got solid support from Martech Research LLC, an industry leader in a variety of research, development, and requirements that meet the evolving demands of the food and nutrition industry. Martech happily met a $50K matching gift challenge during this years Chefs' Feast. Totally awesome! aaaaaaaachefs241

The list of noted companies that support Low Country Food Bank's yearly mission are to extensive to mention, but many are giants in their industry including Cigna Healthcare, Berkeley Electric, Carolina One Real Estate, Hendrick Automotive, South Carolina Federal, Walmart, and the Intertech Group. Among the food and beverage community include Coca-Cola, Harris Teeter, Food Lion, Sysco, and Parker's Kitchen.

Others such as Snyder Events, Loluma, Low Country Photo Booth, and Data Imaging lend their services to the Chefs' Feast, with meteorologist Dave Williams of ABC News 4 acting as an emcee, and Lowcountry Live co-host Tom Crawford offering his exceptional auctioneering skills during the 'Fund the Mission' portion of the evening. Again the aforementioned are just a few of the dozens that step up, not only during Chefs' Feast but on an ongoing basis.

Each and every year 25 of the best restaurants in greater Charleston rise to the challenge, supporting the event. Guests dined on Braised Short Ribs complements of Chase Barton from Martin's Barbecue Joint, Lamb Ribs courtesy of Kelly Franz of the River Course on Kiawah Island, as well as Crispy Carolina Gold Rice from Dano Heinze from Vern's.

Also scrumptiously on tap was Shrimp & Golden Beet Gazpacho from Tim Richardson of Hank's Seafood, as well as Magnolia's Waygu Meatloaf presented by Don Drake and his team. Sweet Treats came courtesy of Sarah Craig of Duvall Catering with Banana Pudding Cheesecake, a variety of cookies from Liz Gorman with Ms. Rose's and Key Lime Pie from Kelly Wilson representing the Culinary Institute with Trident Tech. aaaaaaaachefs243

Mentioning just a few more of the finest chefs and eateries in the low country include Steve Stone with 82 Queen, Alyssa Mendez from Slightly North of Broad (SNOB), Charles Arena with Acme Lowcountry Kitchen, Marc Collins from Circa 1886, Matt Fitzgerald at The Sanctuary on Kiawah, Mark Bolzchoz (Indaco), Alina Bolen (Frannie & the Fox), and Anthony Dibernardo from Swig & Swine.

20 minutes into the evening Nick Osborne, CEO & President of LCFB welcomed attendees, thanking them for their support, followed by an additional heartfelt welcome from Jacques Larson, the Chair of Chefs' Feast and Executive Chef over the Obstinate Daughter on Sullivans Island and their sister restaurant Wild Olive (Chef Brad Grozis) on John's Island.

Larson is humbled just to take part in the annual event. "It is truly special to be a part of Chef's Feast each year. The Charleston F&B community has a long history of supporting local causes and in my opinion, there aren't many efforts more noble than the work that the Lowcountry Food Bank champions. Fighting hunger and food insecurity in an area where 1 out of 5 people experience these misfortunes is a very important task." aaaaaaaachefs245

Wild Olive and Obstinate Daughter have participated 15 and 10 years respectively in Chefs' Feast. Personally Larson's been at it longer. "I, however, have participated in all, but one, Chef's Feast over the last 25 years and had the good fortune to be a part of the inaugural event that took place in 1999, as Chef Robert Carter's sous chef at Peninsula Grill. He adds, "Chef Carter and Lisa Buzzelli (from Trident Technical College) started Chef's Feast all those years ago and it still is going strong today."

Just as awesome as the evening's food & drink was the live auction menu items, including an Evening at Spoleto, a BMW Ultimate Driving Experience, VIP packages to Charleston Wine & Food, the Charleston Riverdogs and the annual Taste of Charleston. The creme of the auction crop may have been vacations for an Ireland Adventure, a Taste of Tuscany, or for the adventurous a Jungle Retreat to Belize!

The annual Chefs' Feast is simply a world class event. Eric Huff and his team with the Culinary Institute at TTC, alongside John Zucker and Nick Dugan from Cru Cafe and Sorelle respectively host a VIP pre-party that easily kickstarts the four hour fundraising event.

There are several worthwhile local charities and non-profit organizations. However, few garner the respect and the admiration throughout greater Charleston and coastal Carolina as do the Low Country Food Bank. The accolades are warranted because since 1983 the sole mission of Low Country Food Bank has been to ensure no one, especially families and children go hungry.

Annual events such as Chefs' Feast and their Walk To Fight Hunger go a long way in supporting Low Country Food Bank's efforts to champion their cause. While established supermarkets, banks, automotive dealerships, and real estate firms can often easily donate $10K, $25K, and $50K to a specific event, it is still the monthly donations of $25, $50, and $100 that keep LCFB funded, furthering the mission.

The combined effort day in and day out, year in and year out, partnering with super markets, farmers, restaurants, corporations, mom & pop businesses, and everyday low country people bring it full circle for those who work at Low Country Food Bank. Maybe you'll never attend the Chefs' Feast or take part in the Walk For Hunger, but by shopping at area supermarkets, supporting a local business, or dining at any of the aforementioned restaurants, in some small way you're helping out.

Hunger happens when we least expect it. Maybe to someone in your neighborhood. For certain it's happening to families your kids go to school with. It's nothing to be ashamed of because it could happen to anyone for a variety of reasons. Thankfully non-profit organizations such as Low Country Food Bank do all they can to pick up the slack, to fill the void, and to ensure as many people as they can never go hungry.

Chef & Culinary Arts Director Don Drake with Magnolia's on East Bay Street witnesses the need first hand. "My wife is a kindergarten teacher in the Charleston county school system. In the Mount Pleasant area she also sees many families where the kids come to school hungry. She will take them to the cafeteria to get some breakfast." aaaaaaaachefs244

His wife understands proper nutrition and education go hand in hand. "It really does help them pay attention in class. When the average conversation starts about food insecurity, I really don’t think people are aware just how many of there neighbors are worried about how are they going to keep a roof over their head and food on the table."

I urge fellow low country residents to explore all that the Low Country Food Bank does, and hopefully support their ongoing efforts. If you have food in your fridge and in your pantry than consider yourself blessed. Help them fight hunger! If you want to support a local non-profit doing good right here in your back yard, than get involved, and maybe we'll see you at the Chefs' Feast in 2025.

This years event raised just shy of 600K for the Low Country Food Bank, which will go a long way in feeding children and families in the low country through a variety of initiatives like Back Pack Buddies and School Pantry Programs. To learn more visit their website at https://lowcountryfoodbank.org/