With their tireless work hours and dogged commitment to craft, it can be hard to imagine chefs outside of the kitchen.
Try imagining them bounding down the side of a building.
Chef Philip Speer knows it will be a startling visual. That is one of the reasons the former culinary director for Uchi and a partner in the upcoming Bonhomie in North Austin decided to round up a team of industry professionals to rappel the Omni Hotel in downtown Austin on November 16 to raise money for Shatterproof.
The national non-profit organization works to educate and fight the disease of addiction. Speer, who has been sober for more than two years following an arrest for DWI, started working in collaboration with the group in an effort to destigmatize the plague of addiction to drugs and alcohol, a disease he has seen firsthand infect his community.
A group of more than a dozen industry professionals, partnering under the name 86 Addiction, are attempting to raise $10,000 for the cause and they will take turns rappelling 20 stories down the Omni.
The team includes chefs and other industry professionals who have been touched personally by addiction or seen it affect someone in their lives. Page Pressley (Emmer & Rye), Nic Yanes (Juniper), Gabe Erales (Geraldine’s), Jared Ferguson (Garage), Paul Qui (Otoko), Callie Speer, (Bombshell), Howard Chang (Wu Chow) and Brandon Hunt (Via 313) are a few of the team members taking the plunge.
“The culinary community in Austin is just as vibrant, diverse, and passion-filled as the food it serves up. It’s also supportive. We have decided to come together to end the stigma around a disease that has touched many of us,” Speer said.
Speer says his goal in working with Shatterproof is to build a conversation around “what addiction really looks like,” and a big key in that is educating people on “how addictions operate.”
The disease has been especially insidious in the restaurant industry, Speer says, and he wants to counter the hard-living and hard-partying lifestyle that for some has become “almost an expectation of how we have to live our lives.”
As a component of their online fundraising efforts, 86 Addiction is raffling off the chance to win an epic Austin dining experience. For every $50 donated, a participant will receive one chance to win a collection of $100 gift cards to about a dozen restaurants, including Bonhomie, East Side King, Emmer & Rye , Geraldine’s, Juniper, NoVa Kitchen, Snooze, Wu Chow, Uchi/Uchiko and VIA 313. Additionally, the winner will get a chef’s tasting menu dinner for four at Swift’s Attic.
For more information on the event and the 86 Addiction team, visit their official page.