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Eating with a cause

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Often we need to find excuses to dine out: we are celebrating an anniversary or birthday; we don’t have time to cook; we want to reward ourselves with a special evening out or, in my case, I don’t want to scrub burnt pots – my cookware only comes one way with my absent-minded cooking skills.

Well I’ve discovered one more reason to pass up a trip to the grocery store and instead let someone else do the cooking – eating for a cause, two to be exact: Dining Out For Life and Chef’s For Life.

Let’s start with the price flexible experience, Dining Out For Life.

The 15-year-old AIDS fundraising event stretches over 33 cities throughout North America, with more than 25,000 restaurants participating, including eight in Whistler.

All participating restaurants will donate 25 per cent of food bills on Thursday, March 23 to the fight against AIDS. For dinner, the following restaurants are participating: Apres Restaurant and Wine Bar, Araxi Restaurant and Bar, BBK’s Pub, HY’s Steakhouse, Kypriaki Norte, La Rúa Restaurante. For lunch, Christine’s on Blackcomb and for both a.m. and p.m. menus Ciao Thyme Bistro.

For the entire month of March, Wolf Blass will donate 75 cents from every bottle of wine purchased in B.C. and Stella Artois will donate a $1 per sale in participating restaurants.

Every year more than $2 million is raised for the cause. So whether grabbing one of Christine’s gourmet burgers with ciabatta bun, smoked applewood cheddar, beer-braised onions and sautéed Portobello mushrooms for $12 or La Rúa’s Quail wrapped with smoked bacon, andouille sausage and corn stuffing with balsamic cider jus for $34, your purchase is contributing more than just a satisfied stomach.

Chefs For Life is rallying chefs to a great cause, only it is piling them all into one kitchen.

Always held in the Vancouver area, Chefs For Life organizers wanted to celebrate the event’s 10th anniversary of raising funds for the Vancouver Friends For Life Society by hosting the dinner at a location as unique as its concept: this year it’s Whistler.

Twelve chefs from Whistler and Vancouver are uniting their expertise to host a 12-course culinary adventure.

"It’s a very high-end ticketed event: people who come are real food and wine lovers," said event founder Kim Osborne. "The chefs have as much fun as the guests."

Chef Jason McLeod, from The Four Season’s Fifty Two 80 Bistro, hosts the evening, bringing his most recent accolade, Conde Nast Traveler’s Hot New Table in 2005 to the plate.

McLeod will be joined by fellow Whistler talents, including seven-year Fairmont Chateau Whistler Executive Chef Vincent Stufano and 26-year-old wonder Chef Melissa Craig of the Bearfoot Bistro.

The local trio will welcome Vancouver Chefs Ernst Dorfler, a Culinary Olympic competitor; Rob Feenie, winner of Iron Chef America and executive chef of Lumiere; Hidekazu Tojo, Canada’s most innovative Japanese chef; Ray Henry, Diva executive chef at the Met; Scott Jaeger, Canada representative at the 2007 Bocuse d’Or and owner of the Pear Tree Restaurant; Brad Miller, former chef of the Three-Star-Michelin Grand Verfour in Paris and current chef at Bistro Pastis; Vikram Vij, owner of multiple-Vancouver Magazine-winner Vij’s; Thomas Haas, voted Top Ten Pastry Chef in America by Chocolatier and Pastry Art magazines; and Mary Mackay, head baker for Terra Breads.

The evening of food and wine also includes a silent auction, where diners can bid on things such as two tickets from Harmony Airways to Maui and accommodation at the Four Seasons Resort.

Friends For Life runs a wellness centre in Vancouver’s West End to provide services to people with life-threatening illnesses, including cancer and AIDS. The event has raised $350,000 to date.

Tickets are $325 for dinner (tax receipts issued) and $475 for dinner and room (based on double occupancy).

For tickets, contact 604-782-1995 or chefsforlife@telus.net.

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