With the abundance of gastronomy in New Orleans and Louisiana, it’s a sobering thought that one in six households across the state is at risk of hunger. It is a statistic that’s hard to swallow, and coupled with the city’s passion for food and drink it might partially explain the support the charity Second Harvest Food Bank receives from New Orleanians, which serves 23 parishes in South Louisiana reaching 210,00 individuals a year with 24 million meals.
The Chefs’ Choice
Fighting hunger is a cause close to the hearts of many of the city’s most famous chefs.
This year Frank Brigtsen, of Brigtsen’s Restaurant in the Riverbend was the keynote chef at the charity’s “Harvest at Home” patron dinner, which was held on Wednesday, April 13, at the beautiful Uptown home of Mary and Bill Hines.
Chefs Sue Zemanick of Gautreau’s, Susan Spicer of Bayona, Tory McPhail of Commander’s Palace and Rebecca Wilcomb of Herbsaint also attended and provided culinary delights.
The Patron Party in New Orleans and a previous event in Lafayette on April 6 were two highlights of “Harvest at Home” initiatives which were celebrated throughout the month of April in supporters’ homes across the city.
Now in its seventh year, “Harvest at Home” creates events that bring people together to share a meal and have a conversation about the issue of hunger in their communities.
A Home’s Harvest
Talking to Mary Hines, we found out why she was motivated to host the patron party and make Second Harvest’s “Harvest at Home” initiative one of her philanthropic priorities.
What made you open your home for this event? “Bill and I have always enjoyed the opportunity to host many social and civic events in our home. We knew when we purchased it 13 years ago that it would be an ideal entertaining home. It flows well, and an added benefit is the large green space – our backyard and terrace. And there can be no more worthwhile cause to support for our community than Second Harvest Food Bank.”
What other events have you hosted? “We have hosted events for the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, WYES, The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, The Idea Village, The Greater New Orleans Foundation and The Jewish Federation.”
What has been your favorite event? “That’s easy! Our daughter’s wedding reception.”
Tell us about your involvement with Harvest at Home? “Our involvement goes back a long way. My husband served on the executive committee of the Second Harvest Food Bank for several years and we’ve always enjoyed attending the “Harvest at Home Patron Party” at the homes of many great New Orleanian hosts.”
What lessons have you learned from hosting so many times? “Hire great bartenders and make sure you have enough bars to service the crowd – quickly! Of course you also need a great caterer and fun entertainment if appropriate. New Orleans has the best to offer in all these areas: drinks, food and music. We usually know the crew and we always enjoy working with them to give a good party.”
What was special about this year? “One of the highlights was undoubtedly the wonderful food prepared by one of our favorite chefs, Frank Brigtsen.”
For further information on Second Harvest Food Bank New Orleans, visit No-Hunger.org.