Chef Derik Watson has a warm place in his heart — and his stove — for the Friendship Circle.
That’s why he, amid a trio of Oakland County culinary professionals, will share his culinary skills to help children with special needs in a Celebrity Chef event.
Three local chefs will cook up something special at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 19, at the Farber Soul Center and Soul Café in West Bloomfield Township. Proceeds will benefit Friendship Circle of Michigan, an organization that provides programs and services to individuals with special needs and their families.
Chefs Reva Constantine of the Great Lakes Culinary Center in Southfield, Sarah Welch of the Republic Tavern in Detroit and Watson, who leads the culinary team at Bistro 82 and The Morrie in Royal Oak, will compete in an exciting culinary battle. Like the television show, these chefs will be presented with an assortment of ingredients and quick-fire challenges that will test their cooking creativity and skills.
Michelle Bommarito, an accomplished chef and TV/radio personality will emcee the evening. In addition to the competition, guests will enjoy desserts, interactive cooking demonstrations, Q&A sessions with the guest chefs and a silent auction.
The Farber Soul Center and Soul Café, the venue for the event, is Friendship Circle’s latest initiative. The facility combines a multimedia art studio and gallery, where artists with special needs create and sell their works and a gourmet kosher restaurant is staffed by young adults with special needs.
Tickets for the event are $75. Anyone making a donation of $200 or more will be able to serve as a sous chef, assisting the professionals during the competition. Audience members also will bid on the opportunity to taste the dishes and select the winner.
“Our company has a long-standing relationship with the Friendship Circle,” says Watson, executive chef of AFB Hospitality Group. “As a chef, this is the type of community event I get excited about — bringing the chef community together to raise money for a good cause. That said ... I still hope to win!”
The event is hosted by Jennifer Lovy, the parent of a 10-year-old with autism who has been participating in Friendship Circle programs since age 2. The Lovy family has raised approximately $50,000 through the annual Walk4Friendship to show its gratitude for the support and services Friendship Circle provides.
“We were looking for a new and creative way to raise money for Friendship Circle, other than the annual walk,” says Lovy, who decided to expand a popular cook-off event sponsored by the organization last year for moms of children with special needs. “It’s an out-of-the-box way to give back to an organization we’ve gotten so much from.”
Event sponsors are Event Bliss, a Franklin-based event-planning business, the Miller Canfield law firm, headquartered in Detroit with offices worldwide, and Masserman Photography in Keego Harbor.
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