On Thursday, April 4, the who's who of South Florida's culinary world are coming together at the Kravis Center because "No kid should ever go hungry," says Chef-Owner Erik Pettersen of Evo Italian Restaurant in Tequesta.
"Food insecurity is when people don't know where their next meal is going to come from, that's essentially what it is in terms of children in Palm Beach County there are 64,000 who are experiencing food insecurity," Laurie George Ph.D., President, and CEO of United Way of Palm Beach County.
Related: Get tickets to Taste of the Nation
"Food insecurity is a huge issue in Palm Beach County. We have 99,000 students enrolled in school who don't necessarily have enough to eat year round. That's a huge problem when you think about the ability to focus, pay attention, learn, develop, and grow properly," says Alexia Savage, Senior VP of Communications and Resource Development at United Way of Palm Beach County.
Taste of the Nation is an event that raises money to address this cause. It features gourmet cuisine from over 50 of Palm Beach's best restaurants as well as wine curated by Master Sommelier Virginia Philip.
The event makes real impacts in the Palm Beach County school system, "We say that for one dollar we are able to create a meal. So we've been able to create over a million meals for children that have food insecurity," says Chef-Partner Lindsey Autry of The Regional Kitchen and Public House located in CityPlace.
For Tim Lipman, Chef-Owner of Coolinary Cafe in Palm Beach Gardens, his passion for making sure kids get fed in schools comes from a place a familiarity. "The very programs that [No Kid Hungry] work with, I grew up with as a child on an everyday basis. So it does, definitely, hit home. Understanding the relationship between a fed child and a happy child is very very important," says Lipman.
It's not a competition, but chefs are on a mission to show off.
"We have an amazing collection of chefs that come together almost in a friendly competitive side," says Lipman, "We create special dishes for the night paired with amazing wines."
"The competition end of it is, yes we all want to bring our A-game, not just for the cause but for the chefs in general to showcase our artistic abilities, our creativity, our inner artist," says Pettersen.
Chef Erik shows us what he is bringing to the Taste of the Nation event
A night of chefs showcasing their culinary skills for a cause that's not nearly complete. "We still have a long road ahead of us," says Lipman.
School teachers, often first to spot food insecurity in students.
"And first hand told us, the kids need food," says Savage. "Teachers do play a very important role. And we know many of teachers who keep extra snacks and things in their classrooms just to ensure every child goes home with enough to eat.
But they are making a tangible impact in Palm Beach County. "As chefs, we have an abundance of food around us all the time. So this is cause that close to all of our hearts. And the money that we raise goes into our public school system to help for offering breakfast in the classrooms as well as summer meal programs."
"It's a wonderful event. We're grateful to 'No Kid Hungry' for raising awareness about this important issue; is something that we care about deeply and work around year round. And we are grateful for the partnerships of all the different restaurants and chefs in our community," says Savage.
"Kids just really need to be kids. And it's our responsibility as adults to make sure everything else is taken care of," says Lipman.
Tickets are still available. In Palm Beach County, I'm T.A. Walker for Taste and See South Florida on WPTV.
You can buy tickets at https://events.nokidhungry.org/events/palm-beach-taste-nation/