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Arts and Entertainment Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016 6 years ago

Meet the Chefs

Get to know the culinary creatives behind St. Jude inaugural Foodlosophy event.
by: Heather Merriman Saba Black Tie Editor

On Friday, Feb. 26, the local chapter of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, a Memphis-based organization that conducts and shares childhood-cancer research across the country, will host the inaugural event of its new national series here in Sarasota.

“We chose Sarasota as one of the 13 locations to debut this new event, because the food, culture and philanthropy in this town is perfect for it,” says St. Jude Regional Event Specialist, Veena Shrestha. 

The event will feature eight chefs from local restaurants. The basis of the event is simple: the chefs are preparing a course of the six-course tasting menu. We love a good food-centered event, so we met up with a few of the local chefs to get a sneak peek at what they're going to have prepared.

Meet the Chefs: 

Erik Walker — Mar Vista

Erik Walker

"I love participating in events outside of the normal restaurant operations.  St Jude has a wonderful message and a reputation for good in the world.  It's an honor to be included."

"My favorite thing to cook at home is grilled chicken — natural charcoal without lighter fluid — over fun new grains that I've never used before."

"If I had to eat only one food for the rest of my life, it would be a fully-loaded cheeseburger on whole wheat, seeded sourdough. Not because it tastes good, but because it hits all of the food groups."


Derek Blackburn

"I've decided to participate in this event, because it's a great cause, sponsored by great people. Not only do we get to raise money for a well-deserved facet of health care, which is pediatric cancer research, but we also, as chefs, are receiving many bountiful contributions from local food purveyors for which our meals will be made from."

"My favorite meal of the day is breakfast, and my favorite thing to cook at home is scrambled eggs, finished with fresh chives and parmesan. Accompanied with proper toast and a few slices of bacon, nothing makes me happier."

"If I were a food, I would be a young carrot. Crisp, sweet and very versatile."

"If I had to only eat one food for the rest of my life, it would be a sandwich. Anything can happen between two slices of bread."


Christian Hershman


Christian Hershman

"I've participated in countless charitable events over the years; our town has many great causes. However, St. Jude, in my view, ranks among the highest in the ability to provide real hope and opportunity for children facing enormous adversity. The patient and family-unit care provided is unparalleled in the medical community. I am always honored to be included in new, fresh ideas. An inaugural event creates a forum, which incubates creativity. The energy and anticipation is exciting."

"My favorite thing to cook at home is Sunday breakfast — typically something “hashed” in a cast iron: turnip greens, or whatever veggies I have around — then baked in sunny-side-up duck eggs, flaky sea salt and cracked pepper. Oh, and really good coffee from my Chemex."

"If I were a food, I would be chicken broth. In many ways, a good broth is done with technicality. But at its core, broth is something very authentic and ancient, yet familiar, comforting and soulful."

"Im always up for a good burger, and while this would probably lead to a shorter life, it would be worth it."

"I was trying to really highlight the items grown in the St. Jude garden, so my dish will be fresh and playful with a rustic wild-garden edge."


Christine Nordstrom — Sift Bakehouse

"I know what a tremendous impact St. Jude has on the lives of those it helps. As a parent myself who has gone through a health crisis with my own child, I understand the feeling of hopelessness when you can do nothing but be there for your child. So anything I can do to help St. Jude do their thing is a pleasure. Giving back is a cornerstone of Sift Bakehouse, and we are honored to participate."

Christine Nordstrom

"I like to cook comfort foods for my kids. They love pasta carbonara, and when I grill. They think it's awesome that everyone is impressed that their mom can grill."

"If I were a food, I would be bittersweet chocolate — slightly sweet, with a bit of an edge."

"If I had to eat one food for the rest of my life, it would be peaches. They remind me of my childhood and my grandfather's peach tree."

"People can expect a rustic, classic dessert with a modern twist."



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