10 Years Ago, the Seed was Planted for Mission Chefs in New Orleans, Now it’s Our Turn to Give Back.
Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, church groups and volunteers in huge numbers from across America came to help New Orleans. And locally, our chef and restaurant community played a major role leading and bringing back the city of New Orleans.
Prior to Katrina, there were 700 restaurants; today there are over 1,400 in New Orleans.
The chefs also played a major role in lending their voices in the media for the fishermen to help rebuild the brand of Louisiana Seafood. Following Katrina, consumers across the United States stopped eating seafood when the waters were reported on as “toxic soup” by the national media. Once the waters were deemed safe, the chefs’ voices, through strategic PR campaigns, helped to restore consumer confidence within two years.
Following the BP Oil Spill, the chefs stepped up once again lending their voices to start rebuilding the brand – a second time. 98% of America stopped eating Louisiana Seafood. Within three years the chefs helped to restore the brand. More importantly, they helped preserve 8 generations of fishing families.
Those chefs were angels. We called them “Louisiana Seafood Chefs.”
With Awareness, Resources Follow
Nine years following Katrina, a simple request was made to the Executive Director of the New Orleans Mission, David Bottner. Recognizing the power of a chef’s voice to help raise awareness through PR, we asked if we could find a well known chef to be a spokesperson for the Mission.
Two calls were made:
The first call failed.
The second call was to a PR friend of ours, Liz Bodet. She cut us off the first 30 seconds of the call saying, “You’re not going to believe this. I have a restaurant group that wants to donate 5,000 meals and they don’t know where to go with it.” We had that answer. One week later we were meeting with Trent Verges of Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts. We secured the deal.
With in a week Trent then called to make the first donation of 1,000 meals for Christmas, 2014.
Creole Cuisine Blew Us Away and Mission Chefs Was Born
Candidly, we thought Creole Cuisine would drive up and drop off 1,000 meals. Quite the opposite happened. The owners showed up with 40 employees to help serve. We were blown away. The New Orleans Mission was blown away.
Looking at Liz, our thoughts went right back to what we did with the Louisiana Seafood Chefs. At that very moment, Mission Chefs was born.
God has had His hand in this from the very start.
Big Need – Bigger Vision
The vision started with one mission in mind – the New Orleans Mission. Today, our vision has grown to expand nationally to support at-risk Opportunity Youth programs and missions across the United States serving the Homeless, too many of whom are our Veterans. It’s our turn to give back.
If you would like to see Mission Chefs in your city, please contact us.
Ewell Smith Shad Ellison