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Serving with a Purpose

Chefs are the stars at two upcoming fund-raising events.

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Getting 10 of Memphis' best chefs together for one event is a toothsome proposition. Pair them with 10 of the best chefs across the country, and you have LeBonAppetit, a first-of-its-kind charity event benefiting Le Bonheur Children's Hospital.

Guests will be able to sample an array of culinary delights from 20 top chefs and also enjoy Ghost River beer, wine, a bourbon-tasting menu, and freshly rolled cigars. Live music and a silent auction — including items from the visiting chefs — will also be in the offing. The event is June 30th at the columns.

"What we're trying to do is create an event that we really haven't seen here in Memphis before," says Kelly English, owner and chef at Restaurant Iris who came up with the LeBonAppetit idea after seeing similar fund-raisers in other cities. "It's people from out of town coming in to support what Le Bonheur does and bring in some styles and flavors that you don't get to have in Memphis every day, while at the same time partnering with some of the best chefs in town."

Participating chefs include James Beard Award-winners and other nationally recognized masters of the kitchen, including Michael Sullivan of Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee, Lee Richardson of Ashley's in Little Rock, and Mike Lata of FIG in Charleston, South Carolina. Local chefs include Jose Gutierrez of River Oaks, Ben Smith of Tsunami, Felicia Willett of Felicia Suzanne's, Jonathan Magallanes of Las Tortugas, and Erling Jensen of Erling Jensen the Restaurant.

Every visiting chef will partner with a local chef to create one-of-a-kind dishes for the evening.

"There's a very good chance that some of what you get to eat there you'll never get to eat again because the chefs will have collaborated on these dishes," English says.

The event is presented by the Le Bonheur Club, a nonprofit that supports Le Bonheur through fund-raising and volunteer service. Proceeds from LeBonAppetit benefit the Le Bonheur Child Life Endowment, a program that helps children and families cope with the stress of staying at the hospital. Lauren Daughtry and Denice McMahon of the Le Bonheur Club say they hope to make this fund-raiser a bi-annual event, potentially one with national pull.

Tickets for tables of 10 are sold out, but individual tickets are available for $250. For more information, visit www.lebonappetit.barrett-creative.com or call 682-9905.

Another impressive lineup of local chefs awaits at the inaugural Artafactor Culinary Series benefiting ArtsMemphis, an organization dedicated to supporting and promoting the arts in Memphis.

Taking place over the course of the summer, each event in the series will be hosted at the home of a generous Memphis family. Guests will enjoy a special dinner or brunch prepared by one of the city's top chefs, as well as a live performance or demonstration by one of Memphis' top artists. The series will culminate in ArtsMemphis' annual Artafactor event on November 3rd.

"In the past, as part of our Artafactor auction packages, we saw that some of the most compelling and productive auction items were people offering private dinners in their homes," says Susan Schadt, director of ArtsMemphis. "This year we thought, why not have the chefs as celebrities? So the dinner parties are a double draw: You've got the culinary artist and the professional artist in an intimate setting."

Among the participating chefs are Karen Roth of Alchemy, Keith Bambrick of McEwen's on Monroe, and Jackson Kramer of Interim.

Some of the events have already sold out, but there are still a number of seats available. Tickets go for $225 each (which includes a ticket to the finale Artafactor event in November).

"All the parties are different," Schadt says. "There's something for everyone, from a pig roast that Andrew and Michael of Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen are doing to an elegant dinner to a party with a pie-making demonstration. Each host and hostess has come up with their own idea. It's got this amazing energy around it."

For a full list of the chef-and-artist pairings or to purchase your tickets, visit www.artafactor.com.

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