Restaurant Week, the 5k Wine & Beer Run, Festival Week ... You probably already guessed I'm talking about the local food and wine nonprofit, Culinaria. Culinaria has long been known for showcasing the best of San Antonio’s culinary community through food and wine events, large and small, casual – like the upcoming Food Truck event – all the way to the ultra exclusive Chefs and Cellars dinner. What you may not know is that all of these great events raise money for a wealth of philanthropic and charitable causes. Culinaria is so focused on the charitable aspect that, in a recent strategy meeting, the team coined a new tagline: Eat. Drink. Give.
“Our food and drink events literally ‘feed’ our giving campaigns,” said Culinaria founder Suzanne Taranto-Etheredge. “The proceeds of those events go to benefit those in need and our community as a whole through our Chefs for Chefs program, urban farm campaign, and scholarship fund.”
The Chefs for Chefs program provides financial support to members of the local culinary community, and their families, struggling with health issues and medical bills. It began as a brunch to help one family in need and has blossomed into a formal program with established guidelines and regular fundraising events.
“After that first brunch two years ago,” Taranto-Etheredge mused, “it became very apparent that the people of the culinary community were in need. Chefs, particularly Executive Chefs, would call and tell us about the struggles their people were facing. We wanted to help.”
And help, they do. This past January, the 2nd Annual Chefs for Chefs Brunch was held once again at Biga on the Banks to celebrate the life of Barbara Wolfe and help her husband, Steven Silbas, defray the costs of her care during her battle with cancer. Wolfe and Silbas were pillars of the culinary community for many years. Together, they owned Casbeers at the Church. Silbas himself passed away in early April, and the couple, known for their generosity and spirit, is together again.
Culinaria is truly bringing the culinary community together with the Chefs for Chefs initiative. Earlier this week, Culinaria hosted the “Pop up in the Park” dinner at Two Bros. BBQ to provide financial assistance to more of those in need. Some of the biggest names in the San Antonio food scene dished up tasty picnic-style bites.
Mark Weaver, a participating chef and the Chef de Cuisine at Jason Dady's Tre Trattoria, explained, “These events are immensely important. Every dollar raised goes to support someone we know. Someone that goes through what we go through – the long hours, the late nights, the missed holidays and birthdays. It’s really important that we can all come together to support each other. We compete every day in a way, but we come together when someone in our community needs help. The rising tide lifts all boats.”
On May 16th, Culinaria will host their Best of Mexico event at The Shops at La Cantera. Local and visiting chefs will cook up their own spin on their favorite Mexican dishes. The result is sure to make you say Puro Yum. The evening is complete with a sampling of tasty beverages including wine, beer, and, of course, tequila with live entertainment and a silent auction.
The Rivard Report has two pair of tickets to the event. All you have to do is answer the following:
Where can one get the best Mexican food in San Antonio?
Each response will be entered into a random drawing. The winners will be announced this Friday, May 9th at 5pm. I look forward to your suggestions.
Giving isn’t just about financial support – Culinaria believes in giving the gift of education as well. Born out of the farm to table movement, Culinaria is also busy working to establish an urban farm.
The vision is to occupy a small parcel of land in the heart of the city and plant a garden with all sorts of herbs, vegetables and fruits, particularly those indigenous to Texas. Chefs and other volunteers will care for the gardens, which will serve as a place where adults and children alike can go to learn about where their food comes from, how to grow the same plants in their own backyard, and then how to make meals from those garden goodies.
Culinaria is currently scouring the city for the perfect piece of land for the farm (suggestions welcome). Despite the fact that the farm is only in the planning phase, nearly 150 chefs signed up to teach and help with the gardens, and local grade schools inquire about the proposed educational programs on a daily basis.
“We are big supporters of sustainability. With this urban farm, we can give back to our community in a meaningful way through educating and helping to improve the health of the city’s residents.” Taranto-Etheridge said, “This space will provide innumerable opportunities for cooking demonstrations, outdoor dinners by local chefs featuring local produce, and wine tasting events.”
So, dear readers, get out there and Eat. Drink. Give. with Culinaria. Your next opportunity to support Culinaria is during the upcoming Festival Week, a series of events spanning the week of May 14 – 18. Every ticket sold contributes to these programs and others, which have an immeasurable positive impact on so many in our local community.
*Featured/top image: The chefs that participated in the January Chefs for Chefs brunch to benefit Steve Silbas. Courtesy photo.