Since the invasion of Ukraine by Russia began on February 24, at least four million people have been displaced from their homes, seeking refuge in border countries like Poland, Romania, Hungary, and Slovakia. Aid organizations like World Central Kitchen (WCK) have met them there to help serve hot meals at pedestrian border crossings with chefs like David Guas, a New Orleans native and Virginia restaurant owner, joining the efforts in person. Still, most U.S. food industry support is necessarily happening from home, from individual restaurant and bar fundraising to collective efforts like Bakers Against Racism’s Bake for Ukraine and Hamantashen for Ukraine, which count local bakeries like Mayhew Bakery, Bywater Bakery, and Gracious Bakery among the national and international participants.
New Orleans’s chefs and restaurant owners spent March contributing in their own ways, when they weren’t participating in Arabi tornado relief efforts, mostly fundraising for WCK, like Copeland’s matching onsite customer donations for the month or Jewel of the South donating a full day’s sales. Now, three of New Orleans’s biggest culinary stars are teaming up to auction off a private dinner they’ll prepare, together: Nina Compton, who owns Compère Lapin and Bywater American Bistro, Isaac Toups, the celebrity chef-owner of Toups Meatery, and Mason Hereford, owner of Turkey and the Wolf and Molly’s Rise and Shine.
Compton, Toups, and Hereford will cook dinner at home for up to 10 people, to include multiple courses with wine or cocktail pairings, “tailored to their preferences.” Bidding is now open; it starts at $10,000 (as of this writing, the current bid remained at $10,000). The money raised will go to benefit WCK’s efforts in Ukraine.
Whether the trio will divide courses or collaborate on each is unclear, though a spokesperson told Eater that the chefs will guide the winner with suggestions and signatures and said, for example, that Compton might offer “a variation of her famed curried goat with sweet potato gnocchi,” while Toups would “certainly” do his famed Meatery Board, customizing accordingly. Still, the potential of a partnership between the three chefs is enticing indeed, given their individual culinary styles. Toups is famed for his homestyle Cajun/Acadiana cooking; Compton, a James Beard Award winner for her refined technique and Caribbean-meets-New Orleans cuisine; while Hereford is a national favorite for having fun with food, reinventing childhood favorites like bologna sandwiches in playful but delicious fashion. Regardless, the dinner promises to provide “the opportunity to engage and socialize with some of New Orleans’s culinary greats.”
The auction is open to all residents within the continental U.S., though if the winner wants to hold the dinner outside of Louisiana, they have to pay for travel and accommodations for the chefs. Bidding closes on April 20; full details can be found at Rally Up.