Susser Leads Charity Dinners for Japan

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Allen Susser is rallying other chefs to come together for a series of fundraising dinners to help Japan.

"Calling ourselves 'culinary messengers,' we've banded together to raise money for Japan and hope that you'll join us," Susser writes in an email to fellow culinarians. "The goal is to generate substantial funds quickly and channel them to the organization(s) where they will do the most good."

Susser specifically asks local chefs to help stage one event -- meal, auction, cooking class, brunch, reception, book signing, whatever. Or in lieu of that, donate a portion of restaurant revenues from any day, week, etc. The hope is to hold all events before April 10. The website, which will be live on or before April 1, is ChefsHelpJapan.com.

The first event takes place at Jade Mountain, St. Lucia, Sunday, March 20. Chefs Jonathan Dearden (Jade Mountain) and Thomas Buckley (Nobu Miami) will head that one. A dinner in Paris will occur April 13. Chef Allen's restaurant will host an event April 5. "We'll start with a saki and sushi reception and follow with a seated dinner for 50 guests at $150 per person.

"We're asking fewer than ten high-profile and highly influential American chefs and restaurants to join us," Susser writes. "We'll be joining an equal-sized group representing Europe, Africa, and Asia. We currently have commitments from Japan, China, Morocco, Portugal, France, Spain, Greece, and the UK."

Although the call just went out, some other chefs have been lined up too. Susser tells Short Order that they include "Alan Wong out in Hawaii, Dean Fearing [in Dallas], Tom Douglas in Seattle, and we're talking with [Masaharu] Morimoto -- it's about whether he'll do something in Philadelphia or New York."

The group is working out a means of getting the money to the right people. "The Japanese aren't organized in the taking of donations right now," Susser says. "And they have a different mentality in that regard. We wanted to specifically get food and water to people, but I'm not sure I can donate that way." Red Cross International of Japan will likely dole out the funds the way it sees fit.

We have no doubt the generous chefs and restaurateurs of Miami will come through. And a tip of the toque to Allen, who always seems to be at the forefront of helping others.

Follow Short Order on Facebook and Twitter @Short_Order.

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