At its annual fundraiser, the organization auctioned off culinary experiences, to the tune of $210,000
So I guess there’s this chicken that we all need to start eating.
The Lummi Island Poulet Bleu. I don’t know if it’s a hen with blue feet or what. But it had its Northwest debut the other night at Savor, the fourth annual fundraiser for Food Lifeline.
And, as prepared by Savor creator Chef Roy Breimanand Mark Bodinet of Copperleaf Restaurant at the Cedarbrook Lodge, it was worthy of all the clucking.
On a night like this, there was a lot to learn not just about food, but about the people who don’t have enough of it — while 40 percent of edible food is sent to landfills.
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Food Lifeline aims to remedy that by collecting good, surplus food from restaurants, grocery stores and food manufacturers, and then distributing it through a network of 275 food banks.
In the process, President and CEO Linda Nageotte has gotten the support of local chefs — and was able to get six of them to take over the kitchen at Cedarbrook to not only prepare a five-course meal for the event but put together live auction packages that ultimately raised more than $210,000.
Breiman, who in his past lives was the executive chef at Salish Lodge and the manager of the Edgewater Hotel, came up with the idea for Savor four years ago.
This year, he brought in Chef Thierry Rautureauof Loulay and Luc; Chef Jason Wilson of Crush and Miller’s Guild; Chef Bobby Moore of Barking Frog at Willow’s Lodge; and Chef Armandino Batali of Salumi.
“You’d think the egos of the chefs would get in the way, but they don’t,” said Cedarbrook General Manager David Sullivan when he led me into the kitchen for a peek at the chaos. “They collaborate seamlessly together.”
On the back patio, Stuart Holmes of Charlie’s Produce (there with his wife, Laurie) gave me his version of a fresh sheet. So take note, people.
“Eastern Washington asparagus is starting this week,” he said.
And start rolling out pie crust, because the field rhubarb is ready, too.
“A lot of it is hothouse-grown, but this,” Holmes said. “This has more … rhubarbiness.”
Tom Douglaswas following the “too many cooks” adage and staying out of the kitchen, instead holding court in the bar with a Dewar’s, and welcoming the crowd.
Gary and Lark Young came in with Charlie Billow — the Charlie of Charlie’s Produce.
Carl and Renee Behnke arrived, he in a black-velvet jacket and she wearing a pearl-and-broccoli necklace (calm down; the florets were fake).
“I got it in a gallery in Barcelona,” she said. Well done.
Holland America CEO Stein Kruse came in and grabbed a glass of wine for himself and his wife, Linda, and looked up at the TV to see how mad March had gotten.
“I saw Wisconsin took care of Arizona,” he said.
Billow and Douglas saw him coming. They’re chairs of Food Lifeline’s $32 million capital campaign, for which they’ve raised $16 million so far. Getting Kruse on the team could sure help them the rest of the way.
“He’s on my list,” Billow said.
It probably wouldn’t be a hard sell.
“We try to be a part of everything,” Kruse told me later.
Rautureau walked in, having just put together the night’s first course: smoked duck with pickled vegetables, miner’s lettuce, rhubarb confit and foie gras mousse.
(“It sounds complicated,” he would say later. “But it’s just duck and some veggies.”)
So I asked: What meal does everyone deserve to enjoy? Roast chicken?
“A warm meal,” he told me. “A warm meal and a roof above their head.”
“I think equal access is important,” Douglas said. “You walk through a food bank and there is fresh produce because of the efforts Food Lifeline makes.”
Batali had made some appetizers, but also took care of the dessert course with his Grandma Leonetta Batali’s Easter Rum Cake. (“Copious amounts of rum.” Yum.)
“Spaghetti and meatballs is always really great,” he said, when I asked what everyone deserves to eat.
Added his wife, Marilyn: “A hearty soup. And an occasional glass of wine.”
KING5-TV anchor Mark Wright grew up in Ferndale and used to work on his uncle’s organic farm when he was a kid. Still goes out there on the weekends.
“My mom used to make a meatloaf that I loved,” he said, a little wistfully, before taking the stage as emcee.
The live auction was a free-for-all, with chefs tossing in whatever it took to boost the bids.
Bid to be on KIRO-FM’s “Seattle Kitchen” with Douglas and Rautureau, and the Chef in the Hat would throw in some croissant and Champagne. No problem.
Bid on dinner for 20 at the Velvet Underground Dining Experience at South Lake Union, and “Oyster Bill” Whitbeck would show up with some bivalves. Sure, why not?
Wilson was offering a “nose to tail” butchery class and dinner for 12 at Miller’s Guild.
“We will butcher animals in front of you!” Wilson told the crowd in his pitch.
“Wonderful,” said Renee Behnke.
Bidding was heated, so when the winner was announced, Wilson threw in another for the runner-up. Just like that.
All told, the event raised enough for one million meals.
“Where there’s food, there’s a way,” said Nageotte.
“She makes me so proud,” said Nageotte’s wife, Nancy Kohn, tearing up. “I love what she does.”