A month doesn't seem to go by without some kind of charity benefit, at which every chef you've ever heard gives away his time and food. Besides the warm feeling of do-goodery, what do the chefs get out of it? Michael Ruhlman had a feature on the subject in this week's Times magazine, and the answers are interesting: Danny Meyer explains charity efficiency (It may cost me $30,000 or $40,000 to close down a restaurant for a night, but if an organization can pull in a quarter of a million dollars, what a great investment, relative to giving a $200 gift certificate that somebody buys for $225), and Aaron Sanchez gives a frank reason for doing all these events (I get to catch up with my friends who are chefs). Ruhlman cites Wolfgang Puck as the originator of the chef-driven benefit back in 1982. As a chefs profile rises, so does his ability to milk beneficial bucks from not only donors but also potential future customers.
Friends With Benefits [NYT]