Live broadcast ‘Celebrity Chef’ challenge to raise funds for Second Harvest

The Celebrity Chef’s Challenge will be the highlight of the Second Harvest North Central Food Bank virtual Chef’s Gala on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. Celebrity chefs are (clockwise from top left) Megan Kellin, Dr. Chris Reilly, Jim Hoolihan, and Katie Benes. Premier local chefs, seen below, will aid them in their efforts remotely.

Well, folks. I might be rusty a year after the Great Northern Radio Show went on hiatus, but I’m getting back in the saddle for one night only.

It’s time for some fancy live broadcast witty banter … for a good cause.

This past year presented an enormous challenge for many of us, but none more so than the Second Harvest North Central Food Bank and organizations like it.

Economic disruption, school closures, and lost income dramatically increased food insecurity across rural Minnesota. Furthermore, COVID-19 protocols made it more difficult for volunteers to assist nonprofits that help feed people in need.

That increased demand for help comes with added difficulty in raising funds to purchase food and distribute it to food shelves across the region.

So, we’re going to do something about that.

Each year, Second Harvest hosts the Chef’s Gala fundraiser in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. It’s a big event with meals provided by the top local chefs. But this year, efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 mean the event can’t happen in the traditional way.

That’s why, this year, I’ve been asked to emcee a live broadcast version of the event this Thursday night, Jan. 21. In fact, it’s more than just a dinner. It’s a celebrity cooking competition. I hope that you would consider getting a ticket to show your support before the event.

Here’s how it works. Anyone can tune into the live broadcast at the Second Harvest Chef’s Gala webpage. There’s no charge to watch. I’ll be on stage at the Wilcox Theater at the Myles Reif Performing Arts Center in Grand Rapids. We’ll see four local celebrities — a doctor, an actress and dance instructor, a magazine publisher, and a local business leader — attempt to make the same recipes in their home kitchens via Zoom.

Helping them will be a panel of *real* chefs from some of the top restaurants in the region. We’re counting on several disasters occurring along the way, which is the main reason to watch. Plus the celebrities will be pulling out all the stops to get people to vote for them with their dollars.

Tickets are free. They come with special take-out offers at area restaurants so you can dine in while enjoying the show. With a ticket you can then donate dollars in the name of your favorite celebrity chef. Or, if you just enjoy the show, you can make general donations or split them among several chefs. The point is for those of us with the means to help however possible.

Plus, I’ll be there to shepherd things along and attempt witty comments whenever necessary. I normally host radio shows, and this is essentially a television show. So we’ll find out if I’m ready for the middle-to-late 20th Century.

It will be fun, but it will also go a long way toward helping Second Harvest North Central Food Bank meet the rising demand for food by families across the region.

The show starts at 6:30 on Thursday, Jan. 21 at Go there before the show to buy your ticket, which will allow you to make additional donations to the celebrity chef or chefs of your choice before or during the show.


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