Ribs For Kids raises more than $200,000 for children with autism
Top chefs representing some of Long Island and Manhattan’s most reputable restaurants recently took to Southampton for the barbecue benefit Ribs For Kids. The event on Saturday, July 15, sponsored by private equity investor Michael Loeb and hosted at his shorefront home, was organized to raise money and awareness for the relatively new nonprofit known as Pop.Earth, the first organization in the country to offer low cost to free holistic health and wellness options to people with autism and developmental disorders.
“When it comes to people with autism, they are five times more likely to have unrelated issues, so to help alleviate some of the negative behaviors that come out it’s so important to follow up with health and overall wellness,” said Debbie Stone, founder of Pop.Earth, who has a son on the autism spectrum. “As a country, we’re all making that move toward health and wellness, but I was ahead of the curve in bringing that discussion to special needs. Everybody knows that you are what you eat, yoga has been around for hundreds of years, this is not some mumbo jumbo stuff, just try it and see the benefits.”
Pop.Earth works primarily with people affected by developmental disorders over the age of 21, but those of all ages and abilities are welcomed, offering yoga, reiki, massage, art, music, dance, fitness, advocacy and healthy cooking sessions. Both Stone and Franklin Becker, a Pop.Earth board chair and seasoned chef with multiple restaurants and Top Chef appearances, were on hand to discuss the future of the nonprofit and its initiatives.
The event, the culmination of entrepreneurial drive and a love for cooking, was complete with expert-level culinary delights, complimentary cocktails and wine, poolside banter and music to underscore the night at Loeb’s property, which appears on Showtime’s Billions.
The culinary talent, inclusive of chefs from restaurants and catering services such as Black Tap, Butter, Dean & Deluca, Barbuto and Tao, to name a few, were quick to offer their services when approached by event organizer Shu Chowdhury and his friend Decker.
“Chefs come together whenever one of us needs something, it’s been like that as long as I can remember,” said chef Michael Ferraro of Delicatessen, located on Prince Street in Manhattan. “When I need something they’re always there, so especially if it’s for a cause, if a chef asks me to do something, I’m there.”
Chowdhury, cofounder of restaurant operating system Salido, has been organizing the event for nearly a year and a half. After attending an entrepreneurial retreat in Loeb’s backyard, tasting the ribs he prepared and considering all the mutual culinary connections the two shared, Chowdhury was inspired to create something that would bring all those elements together.
“Franklin Becker, who is an unbelievable chef, is one of my close friends and he’s done charity work with every single one of these chefs before. Anytime he needs them, they’ll come out,” said Chowdhury. “Chefs are competitors, so when we told them to come out to the Hamptons to prove they have the best ribs and raise some money at the same time, they were on board. With all these guys so eager to come out, we knew this could turn into something big.”
Chowdhury’s instincts proved correct, as the event was successful in raising well over $200,000 through flat out donations, as well as the silent auction and live auction that took place throughout the day. That money will be directed toward establishing the Om Holistic Center for Autism and Developmental Disorders, a New York-based headquarters that would host classes, informative sessions and events.
Due to the outpouring of support for Pop.Earth and level of excitement the event was met with, Chowdhury is hopeful that it is one that will become an annual celebration.
For more information about Pop.Earth, visit www.popearth.org.