Bloggers Against Hunger: Chefs Up Front 2013

April 8, 2013  •  Informational, Menus, Restaurants

cooking matters new logoA few weeks ago I attended what I consider to be the best foodie fundraiser event in town, Chefs Up Front. Chefs from the top restaurants in Denver and Boulder cook gourmet meals table side for a small group of ten guests, all paired with great wines. The meal stands in stark contrast to the families it benefits, those families suffering from food insecurity – you might know that as struggling with hunger. But you might not be that knowledgeable about hunger in America, in particular about childhood hunger. Here are some facts:

  1. 16 million kids in America – that’s 1 out of 5 – struggle with hunger. They live in families that lack the means to regularly put enough nutritious food on the table for everyone to live healthy, active lives. They are considered “food-insecure”.
  2. Rates of food insecurity are substantially higher than the national average among households with incomes near or below the federal poverty line.
  3. Food insecurity is most common in large cities but still exists in rural areas, suburbs and other outlying areas around large cities.
  4. Six out of seven low-income kids who eat a free or reduced-price school lunch during the academic year do not get a free meal during the summer.
  5. Despite how critical it is to learning, and despite the fact that more than 20 million kids get a free or reduced-price school lunch on an average school day, only 9.8 million – fewer than half — of those kids get free or reduced-price school breakfast.
  6. Eating breakfast ensures that children have the energy and focus needed to make the most of their school day. School officials report that they also see better attendance, less tardiness, and fewer behavioral problems when all kids eat breakfast.
  7. Nearly half (49.2 percent) of American children will receive SNAP benefits (food stamps) at some point in their lives.
  8. The hunger-obesity paradox has been studied and written about at length: families with food insecurity do not eat regularly scheduled meals, may binge on cheap junk food because of hunger, and lack access to nutritionally sound foods, all contributing to obesity. While it may be hard to fathom, that very overweight child you are looking at may be hungry on a daily basis.

place at the tableThe film A Place at the Table was recently released to try to educate us about the issues of hunger in America. While hunger was nearly eradicated 50 years ago, continual cuts to the safety net programs that were put in place at the time have resulted in a tragedy in our country. As Jeff Bridges says in the film, “If another country were doing this to our children, we would be at war.”

Today, in support of spreading the message about the challenges of hunger in American, bloggers across the country are coming together to dedicate a post to this important challenge we face. (Check out all the bloggers in support at The Giving Table.) So as I relay to you the incredible meal that our chef prepared for us for the Chefs Up Front fundraiser, I would ask you to keep in mind what it feels like to be a child in school who may not have eaten anything for over 24 hours. Or how it feels to be a young mom taking buses for 90 minutes just to reach a store that carries any vegetables of any sort. Or how it feels to be a parents struggling to feed their family on just a few dollars a day. And then I’d ask you to take action:

  1. Support Cooking Matters – we work to teach low income families how to cook and eat nutritiously on very limited incomes.
  2. Support the No Kid Hungry campaign – access to school breakfast and school lunches using existing federal funding is a key part of the work we are doing.
  3. See A Place at the Table – it’s important we all understand the issues of hunger and how they impact the health, ability to learn, and future effectiveness of our children as they take their place in the workforce.

chefs up front snooze gravlax quail egg and frisee

House-made Gravlax, Poached Qual Egg, Frisee, Golden Chicory Essence

I chose the chef from Snooze, a popular breakfast joint in Colorado with several locations now, as our chef because I knew it was would be surprising for my guests. Chef Joseph Strelnik, originally from Johnstown Pennsylvania, began his career in some of Johnstown’s finest restaurants including the Incline Station and the Boulevard grill.chefs up front snooze seared scallops on lemon blinis

Seared Scallops, Snooze Blinis, Vanilla Creamed Leeks,
Preserved Lemon, Compressed Pineapple

His passion and love for the profession took him to Providence Rhode Island where he attended the prestigious Johnson & Wales University. While attending school (he eventually graduated with honors) Joseph was employed at Providences only four star restaurant the Mills Tavern.chefs up front snooze lamb loin with vegetable daffinoise and coffee jus

Pan Roasted Lamb Loin, Root Vegetable Daffinoise, Coffee Jus, Fine Herbs

After several years working in fine restaurants in Europe, he joined Norwegian Cruise Lines and headed up the fine dining division of the Pride of Aloha in Hawaii. After a few years in paradise – and with a quick stop in Vegas to work as a sushi chef – he was lured to Colorado as part of the opening team for Snooze, Fort Collins.chefs up front snooze chocolate and peanut butter dessert

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Truffle Cake, Cocoa “Soil”, Salty Peanut Brittle,
Micro Mint, Peanut Butter Milshake

His menu for the evening was five star calibre, and offered a nod to breakfast with each course as you can see. I’m grateful not only that I had the chance to experience his creative food, but also that I don’t experience hunger on a daily basis like so many in our country do. Thanks Chef for doing your part to help end hunger in America!

Special thanks to Nicole from The Giving Table for organizing this event!

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