Turkeys for Durm, It’s More Than Just Turkeys


Just one week left to donate to #TurkeysForDURM, where 100% of the proceeds collected will go towards buying turkeys to be delivered to and distributed by the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.

20131112-061414.jpgWhy am I supporting something all the way in North Carolina, when I live in Las Vegas? Good question. This campaign was started by a good friend, Johnny Jones. Some time ago, Johnny, posted a message on Instagram, a call to action to buy 100 turkeys to donate to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, a pay-it-forward campaign. Without asking any questions, I put some cash in an envelope and sent it to Johnny. Shortly after, I saw the website, logo and facebook page that eventually developed from that instagram/tweet and decided I wanted to know more about what inspired such an endeavor, from what seemed like out of nowhere. So I gave Johnny a ring, and got a story that makes me so glad I didn’t hesitate to support his cause.

Johnny told me that on a couple of occasions, people had helped him and his family out, but the time he remembers the most clearly was the Thanksgiving of 1996. That year, a church organization had been helping his family out at different times throughout the year and that Thanksgiving, they gave his family a turkey.

Johnny: It was the best turkey I remember [mom] cooking. It was juicy. We ate off of it from Thursday to Monday. We made it stretch. We didn’t have anything but that meal. It left such an impression on me. We didn’t have to worry about what we were going to eat tomorrow. My Mom also had so much pride about the way it came out. I could never thank them, but I can pay it forward, and hopefully give someone that same type of feeling. It was years ago, but I remember like it was yesterday.

When I asked Johnny about why now? why 100 turkeys?

Johnny: I was talking with a guy who owns a non-profit and decided I wanted to be more philanthropic and make more change in my community. We were talking about doing something in the future, 10 people get 10 turkeys. I was feeling blessed and wanted to donate now, not the future. I was familiar with By Any Meals, a campaign started by Aristotle Torres, a music video director from NY and Hood Chef, to feed people in all 5 Burroughs [of New York]. They were young and decided to do something on their own. So I figured, why not do it this year. Even if I fall on my face, at least I had the courage to try.

Johnny did indeed try and has received a tremendous amount of unsolicited support.

Johnny: What’s been exciting, is the way people have made selfless donations, to make a memorable Thanksgiving for a lot of people.

A turkey might seem like a small thing to many of us, but it might just make someone’s Thanksgiving. Salute to Johnny, and his efforts, as well as everyone who contributed to his turkey drive or any other drive going on this holiday season. While I hope you support Johnny, what I hope even more is that you pay-it-forward to someone. You never know when a simple act of kindness can influence the life of another, let alone 100 families.

Turkeys For DURM


If you’re in North Carolina you can also donate at your local Wells Fargo Branch

Donations will be accepted between now and November 19th

It’s Las Vegas Restaurant Week – Spring 2012 Edition

I’m all about giving back, and when giving back and food combine, I couldn’t be more happy. Since 2007, Las Vegas Restaurant Week, has been helping support Three Square, Southern Nevada’s Food Bank. Normally, Las Vegas Restaurant Week is in the fall, but this year, they are doubling their efforts with a spring edition of Las Vegas Restaurant Week, starting today, February 27th thru March 4th.

Not only do you get a chance to support, Three Square, and their mission to provide wholesome food to those in need in Southern Nevada, but it’s also a perfect opportunity to sample some great food at some of Las Vegas’ finest restaurants. Exclusive Restaurant Week three-course meals start at $20.12 and with each meal purchased, a donation is made to Three Square.

For a run-down of participating restaurants, as well as their exclusive Las Vegas Restaurant Week menus visit www.helpoutdineoutlv.org

Feel free to leave a comment about which restaurants you visited and what you enjoyed.

Las Vegas Restaurant Week Spring 2012 Edition
February 27th-March 4th

Counter Culture, Lifting the Voices of Kids in DC

Today, my friend Chris sent me an email about a project in my hometown of Washington, DC, that needs some support. There are a group of kids who’ve written essays about their favorite foods. The kids all participate in writing workshops facilitated by Lifting Voices, a non-profit in DC that works thru after-school programs, a domestic violence shelter, and a youth court program. The book, Counter Culture, will tell the stories and histories of the foods they love in words and pictures. There will also be stories contributed by food gurus José Andrés (Jaleo Restaurant: Washington, DC and here in Las Vegas), Spike Mendelsohn (Top Chef,  Good Stuff Eatery/We, the Pizza: Washington, DC) and Robert Egger (President: DC Central Kitchen).

Mock up of the book, Counter Culture

Pledge $25 or more and not only will you be supporting a great project, but you’ll also receive a digital copy of the book and a slice of pizza or a hamburger from Spike Mendelsohn’s We the Pizza or Good Stuff Eatery.

To find out more about the project and to donate visit the Counter Culture KickStart page. There’s also a great video on there about Lifting Voices and the Counter Culture coffee book project. They are looking to raise all funds for the printing of the book by April 29th.

Visit SushiSamba and Support Japan

If you’re in Las Vegas, Miami, Chicago or New York, I encourage you to stop by SushiSamba and support the relief efforts in Japan. The sushi chef in each location has created a special roll, with 100% of the proceeds going to the Red Cross to assist relief efforts in Japan.

The other day after work, I headed over to SushiSamba in the Palazzo to make my contribution. As soon as I sat down at the bar, I was greeted by the pleasant whiff from the fresh mint leaves the bar back was pulling from the stalk of mint in his hands. I was happy to find out I had caught Happy Hour and the $6 Mojitos and Caipirinhas. The guys next to me had ordered seviche, which looked good. I ordered the Yellowtail Seviche based on the bartenders recommendation, and the Chef Yuki’s Japan Disaster Relief Roll.

Chef Yuki’s Disaster Relief Roll is a tuna roll with eel, shiso leaf, kaiware, radish, and kaiso kira kira. The shiso leaf added a slight minty taste to the roll and the kaiware, the green sprouts sticking out of the roll, added a hint of peppery flavor. The plate is decorated in spicy sauce, which takes the heat of the roll up a notch.

Chef Yuki's Japan Disaster Relief Roll, Yellowtail Seviche, and Mojito

As much as I enjoyed the Yellowtail Seviche and Disaster Relief Roll, the pièce de résistance was dessert. Usually when I go to a sushi restaurant, I end my meal with a piece of mochi ice cream, which SushiSamba has and is made in house. But I don’t consider SushiSamba your traditional sushi restaurant, so I decided to switch it up. I opted for something with a little bit more of a Brazilian influence, so I ordered the Cassava Carrot Cake. It was so good that it was gone before I realized I hadn’t taken a picture of it. The carrot cake was moist and spongy. It’s served on a velvety bed of cinnamon cream and is topped with a scoop of brown butter ice cream that has a refreshing sweetness to it. The plate is drizzled with orange reduction that has a nice kick, almost like a liqueur. Each element tasted wonderful individually, but to be truly appreciated, each fork full should include a little bit of each.

The Disaster Relief campaign runs through the end of March. Each roll is $12 and each location has a different roll. You can also support relief efforts in Japan by donating directly to the Red Cross.

Inside the Shops at the Palazzo
3327 Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89109

Help for Haiti

HaitiAs Haiti begins to recover, one of the biggest questions has been, how to provide food and water to the nearly 1.5 million displaced people of Port-au-Prince. With this in mind, I couldn’t begin writing a blog about indulging in food and drink without providing resources to those who wish to assist the relief effort in Haiti.

The Red Cross is accepting donations on their website, at participating Starbucks, and by text message. Text HAITI to 90999 and $10 will be donated and charged to your cell phone bill.

The LATimes.com has also compiled an extensive list of organizations where you can donate money, time and even frequent flyer miles.

Locally, the Las Vegas Haitian Disaster Relief Committee is collecting non-perishable goods, clothing, bottles of water, and medical supplies and shipping them to Haiti. Items can be dropped off at:

First Baptist Church
4400 West Oakey
Las Vegas, NV 89102
(W. Oakey & S. Arville)

Several local restaurants and shows are also hosting events and donating proceeds to relief efforts in Haiti:

  • Hennessy’s Tavern is hosting a benefit on Friday, January 29th at 8pm
  • Bette Midler is matching audience donations collected at her show for Doctors Without Borders now thru January 31st
  • Carrot Top is donating all of his merchandise sales to the Red Cross thru January 31st. Merchandise can be purchased at the Luxor and Carrottop.com
  • TAO Asian Bistro in the Venetian and LAVO Italian Restaurant in the Palazzo have both added a line item on their diners’ checks that allow donations to be made to UNICEF. Donations can be made now thru January 30th.