For the second year in a row, Columbia’s Transitions Homeless Center has gathered considerable talent for its signature fundraiser event. First, Synovus Bank has signed on as a multi-year sponsor for the limited-seat dinner, now known as Synovus Chefs’ Feast.
Second, co-hosting the dinner are chefs Sarah Simmons, of CITY GRIT restaurant group, Columbia’s Rise Gourmet Goods & Bakeshop and New York City’s Birds & Bubbles, as well as Russell Jones, of Columbia’s Tallulah restaurant on Devine. Tallulah will also host the event.
Simmons has enlisted a line-up of celebrity chefs committed to supporting homeless and hunger initiatives in their communities.
The line-up includes:
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Aarti Sequeira, the Los Angeles-based winner of Food Network’s “Food Network Star: Season 6,” host of Food Network’s “Aarti Party,” and Cooking Channel’s “Taste in Translation.” You may recognize her as a frequent judge of “Guy’s Grocery Games” and “From Duff Til Dawn.”
Becky Masson, the chef-owner at Fluff Bake Bar, Houston, TX, Masson was named Best Pastry Chef 2017: Houston, and was a contestant on Bravo’s “Top Chef: Just Desserts” season 2.
Claire Robinson has appeared on BBC America’s “Chef Race,” Cooking Channel’s “Quest 4 Fresh,” Food Network’s “5 Ingredient Fix” and “Food Network Challenge.”
Grayson Schmitz is the chef at Brooklyn Larder, NYC, and was a contestant on “Bravo’s Top Chef” seasons 9 and 13.
Elizabeth Igleheart, Vice President of Advancement at Transitions, a 260-bed facility located in downtown Columbia, says that funds raised will be used to bolster the jobs training program at Transitions, including an expanded focus on training for careers in the culinary field.
“There is a synergy between the homeless and the jobs that they can handle,” she says. “Jobs are key to helping our residents become financially independent and self-sufficient.”
Several current and former Transitions clients will participate as sous chefs, prepping ingredients for the event.
Simmons has said her commitment to Transitions will extend beyond the May 6 event.
“Transitions offers a first step towards an opportunity for a new life for its clients in Columbia,” said Simmons. “The next step comes with workforce development.”
In previous interviews with The State, Simmons says she intends to establish a training program at her upcoming Columbia restaurants that will teach aspects of the day-to-day operations of running a restaurant, and that she is committed to supporting Transitions.
The five-course dinner will be served with wines selected by Tim Gardner, sommelier and owner of Lula Drake, while Jones will serve a selection of hors d’oeuvres as well as a specialty cocktail.