Seasoning Future Chefs

Posted April 1, 2012 at 11:59pm

A cadre of local cheflebrities and their epicurious school-age helpers want to wine and dine you with world cuisines April 26 at the Liaison Capitol Hill hotel.

Art Smith, owner/operator of Art and Soul restaurant here on Capitol Hill and founder of Chicago-based nonprofit Common Threads, is hosting the second annual fundraiser this year. The multitalented toque-turned-philanthropist has famously fed the likes of everyone from Oprah Winfrey to President Barack Obama. 

Washington, D.C., program coordinator Susan Reilly said the group raised about $100,000 during last year’s inaugural “world festival,” and it hopes to exceed that goal this year. Tickets for the three-hour tasting are $150 per person.

According to Reilly, 100 percent of the funds collected in D.C. are redirected to the four schools Common Threads partners with locally:

  • Ward 6: Tyler Elementary School (1001 G St. SE)
  • Ward 8: Washington Middle School for Girls (1901 Mississippi Ave. SE)
  • Ward 5: Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School (3700 Oakview Terrace NE)
  • Ward 1: Bancroft Elementary (classes conducted at CulinAerie, 1131 14th St. NW)

The group accommodates about 75 low-income students between all four locations (16-18 kids per class) during each session. The after-school program runs during the spring and fall, with each hands-on cooking course running about 10 weeks.

“We feel like the kids really walk away with some in-depth life skills,” Reilly said, citing the program’s emphasis on sound nutrition and personal responsibility.

The invite list features honorary Congressional co-hosts, including Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.), whose daughter, Thomasin, is an avid supporter and advisory board member.

Newcomers to the dine-around event include: Graffiato chef/owner Mike Isabella, Acacia Bistro & Wine Bar toque Ravi Narayanan, Poste Moderne Brasserie chef Dennis Marron, Passion Food Hospitality group co-founder Jeff Tunks and Station 4 chef Orlando Amaro.