If you have an appetite for good food and a good cause, Le Bon Appetit needs to be on your to-do list! Next Saturday night, June 9, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital’s star-studded biennial culinary fundraiser Le Bon Appetit is taking place at Crosstown Concourse. This divine culinary event brings more than 45 of the nation’s most celebrated chefs here to Memphis, including several chefs who have been nominated or won a prestigious James Beard Award.
“Le Bonheur Hospital literally secures our future as a region. They take care of the kids and make them healthy … and secure what I think is a bright future for our city,” says chef and owner of Restaurant Iris, The Second Line, Iris Etc. and Magnolia House Kelly English, who hosts this event along with Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital’s founding organization, Le Bonheur Club. “We bring in chefs from all across the country, and we have chefs locally who support everything we do. It’s an amazing event.”
James Beard Award winner of the 2014 Best Chef: Southeast, Chef Ashley Christensen of Poole’s Diner and five other Raleigh, NC, culinary establishments says that when it comes to charitable giving, Kelly English is a leader in the culinary industry. “We have so much respect for the work that he does, and we’re honored to be a part of that because his actions are really setting the example,” she says. “When he told me about the work that Le Bon Appetit supports, it was an easy decision — charities that make an impact on the lives of children are so important.”
So, without further ado, here’s a peek at 10 of the James Beard-nominated and -winning chefs who are coming to town for Le Bon Appetit, a mere taste of the culinary creatives coming to the Bluff City for this delicious event.
10 Nationally Acclaimed Chefs Headed to Memphis for Le Bon Appetit
Chef Aarón Sánchez
Johnny Sánchez, New Orleans, LA
Chef Aarón Sánchez is not only an award-winning chef, but he is also an acclaimed TV personality, cookbook author and philanthropist. The chef and owner of Mexican restaurant Johnny Sánchez in New Orleans, Aarón is currently a judge on Fox’s hit culinary competition, “MasterChef.” He has been on many Food Network and Fox shows, and he even won a James Beard Award for Television Studio Program in 2014 and was the host of the Emmy-nominated Cooking Channel series, “Taco Trip.” Aarón will be making a shrimp ceviche tostada with the Executive Chef of Johnny Sánchez, Miles Landrem.
Chef Steve McHugh
Cured, San Antonio, TX
Chef Steve McHugh has been a James Beard Award Best Chef: Southwest finalist for the past three years, and if you have dined at his restaurant, Cured, in San Antonio, TX, you know why. Using the finest regional ingredients, Steve has built a menu based on a foundation of lovingly hand-crafted cured foods, from charcuterie to pickles. Steve is looking forward to visiting the National Civil Rights Museum for the first time when he is in town, but he says there is one main reason he excited about his trip. “The foundation of my restaurant Cured is helping others and staying involved in the community, so I was thrilled for the opportunity to participate in a fundraising event benefiting Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital,” says Steve.
Chef Ryan Prewitt
Pêche, New Orleans, LA
Since opening Pêche in 2014, Ryan has received awards and acclaim for his seafood dishes. With a focus on working with local fishermen and farmers who harvest sustainably, Pêche serves simply prepared contemporary dishes, rustic creations cooked on an open hearth, as well as fresh oysters and Gulf fish. In 2014, Ryan was honored with a James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: South. That same year, his restaurant, Pêche, won a James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant in America. Ryan will be preparing a chilled Gulf shrimp and peanut salad for Le Bon Appetit.
Chef Kelly Fields
Willa Jean, New Orleans, LA
Kelly is the Chef and Partner of Willa Jean in New Orleans, LA. Named after her grandmother, who inspired her to pursue her passions, this restaurant and bakery has quickly become a “must” New Orleans dining destination. And, of course, it’s no surprise she’s gotten national recognition since opening her doors in 2015. She was a James Beard finalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef in both 2017 and 2018 and a semifinalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef in 2015 and 2016. At her all-day café, Kelly serves up baked goods and Southern fare that is worth every single carb and calorie! Speaking of calories, Kelly plans on enjoying some of Memphis’ local fare as well, saying, “I’m looking forward to Payne’s Bar-B-Q, Gus’s Fried Chicken and any and all of Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman’s restaurants!”
Chef Barry Maiden
Future Chefs, Boston, MA
In 2008, Barry opened Hungry Mother in Cambridge, MA. He was quickly named one of Food & Wine magazine’s “Best New Chefs” in 2009, and in 2015, he was awarded the prestigious James Beard Award Best Chef: Northeast. While at Hungry Mother, Barry was known for his unique Southern approach to cooking in the heart of Boston. Hungry Mother has now closed its doors, but Barry can be found in the kitchen at Future Chefs helping the next generation learn the foundation for a career in the culinary arts. He is the Culinary Director of this nonprofit cooking school that prepares teens to pursue a broad range of culinary careers. At the event, Barry will be preparing a smoked Wagyu beef tongue. Over the weekend, you might find him at Ernestine & Hazel’s or enjoying po’ boys and cocktails at The Second Line!
Chef Kevin Nashan
Sidney Street Café, St. Louis, MO
At Sidney Street Café, Kevin receives national recognition for his award-winning Southern cuisine with global influences from his classic French training to his time spent in Spain and New Mexico. He was named James Beard Best Chef: Midwest Winner in 2017, after being a finalist in 2014 and 2016. In 2014, he opened another popular St. Louis dining destination, Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co. Kevin says he travels all the way to Memphis to participate in Le Bon Appetit for the kids. While in town, he plans to stop at both The Second Line and Hog & Hominy. “Those sweetbreads,” he reminisces, nearly at a loss for words, of his last visit to Hog & Hominy.
Chef Jonathon Sawyer
Trentina, Cleveland, OH
Jonathon will be headed to Memphis from Cleveland, OH, where he is chef and owner of several restaurants. As a proud Clevelander, this James Beard Award-winning chef has worked tirelessly to help elevate the culinary landscape of his hometown with his distinctive restaurant concepts, including his newest venture, Trentina, an intimate, fine-dining restaurant focusing on the cuisine of Trentino in Northern Italy, where his wife, Amelia Sawyer and her family originate. His list of acclaimed Cleveland culinary destinations include The Greenhouse Tavern, Noodlecat and his three stadium food service establishments — Street Frites, Sausage & Peppers and SeeSaw Pretzel Shoppe. Chef Sawyer’s passion, skill and creativity have been rewarded greatly since he arrived on the culinary scene. In 2010, Food & Wine magazine named him a “Best New Chef” and in 2015 he took home the coveted James Beard Award for Best Chef: Great Lakes. Jonathon will be serving his spin on vodka & caviar: horseradish-infused vodka with caviar crema on top of a sturgeon chip.
Chef Vishwesh Bhatt
Snack Bar, Oxford, MS
Vishwesh is the executive chef of Snack Bar in Oxford, MS. Located in a strip mall not too far from Oxford’s iconic Town Square, Snack Bar is an upscale French bistro with a Southern twist. Part of John Currence’s City Grocery Restaurant Group, Vishwesh has received national attention for his fare, having earned five nominations as a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation Award Best Chef: South. There are a few reasons why he says he travels up to Memphis for Le Bon Appetit: “It is a great cause that my friend Chef Kelly English asked me to help with. And we all look forward to some great Memphis music and Kelly’s hospitality.” On his menu for the event is a chicken and chickpea harira with preserved lemons and a mint-chili oil.
Chef Gerard Craft
Niche Food Group, St. Louis, MO
Gerard is one busy chef. He has five restaurants in St. Louis: Sardella, Brasserie, Taste, Pastaria and Porano, and he just opened an outpost of Pastaria in Nashville, TN. The menus of his acclaimed dining spots are known for their small plates and innovative takes on pasta. Before winning the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Midwest in 2015, he had been a finalist for five years. While in Memphis, Gerard is looking forward to enjoying “sandwiches at The Second Line and pizza at Hog & Hominy.” He will be preparing chicken liver mousse with preserves, peanuts and celery.RELATED: 11 New Memphis Restaurants Bring Major Culinary Creativity to Town
Chef Ashley Christensen
Poole’s Diner, Raleigh, NC
After working in some of Raleigh’s top kitchens, Ashley opened Poole’s Diner in 2007. Known for comfort-food classics made with fresh seasonal ingredients, Poole’s Diner has become a North Carolina institution. In 2011, Ashley opened three new ventures, all housed in a corner building once occupied by a Piggly Wiggly: Beasley’s Chicken + Honey, Chuck’s and Fox Liquor Bar. And, shortly thereafter in 2014, Ashley was awarded the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southeast. In the spring of 2015, her restaurant group AC Restaurants introduced two more dining concepts: Death & Taxes and Bridge Club. Just this year, she was a finalist in the Outstanding Chef category after being a semifinalist in both 2016 and 2017. At Le Bon Appetit, Ashley will be whipping up lump crab rolls with smoked tomato, malt mayo and charred ramps.
So, make sure you don’t miss this biennial culinary event that supports all the good work of Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital!
Le Bon Appetit is on June 9, 2018. The event will be held at 6 p.m. at Crosstown Concourse with 45+ chefs from across the country, including 17 featured Memphis chefs. The event brings some of the nation’s most celebrated talent together in Memphis, all working to continue the mission of raising funds for Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.
For more information about Le Bon Appetit, visit lebonappetit.org.
Thank you to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital for providing the images of these talented chefs.