On June 8, 2018, the celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain took his life at age 61. While fans and chefs around the world mourned the loss, some saw an opportunity to learn from the tragedy by bringing more awareness to mental illness and addiction in the high-stress environment that is the service industry.
In honor of Bourdain’s birthday on June 25, two of his chef friends declared it Anthony Bourdain Day, and hundreds of fundraisers took place across the country raising money for various mental health charities. Some were even held in Louisville, and the largest of the local celebrations, A Taste for Life, will take place Saturday, June 29, at Four Pegs Beer Lounge in the Germantown/Schnitzelburg neighborhood.
More than 20 chefs will be cooking their favorite street food-styled dishes at the casual event, and attendees will be able to sample everything, as well as enjoy live music, drinks, a silent auction, raffle prizes and even a dunk tank for those chefs brave enough to take a dip.
All proceeds from the $35 ticket price will go to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Everything will be OK Project, a local mental health advocacy organization created by Will Russell.
Participating chefs and restaurants include Griffin Paulin (Mirin), Dallas McGarrity (The Fat Lamb), Patrick Roney (Ashbourne Farms), Tavis Rockwell (LouVino, Biscuit Belly), Jessie and Liz Huot (Grind Burger), Sean Haggerty (Commonwealth Catering) and many more.
Insider caught up with Chef Chris Williams of Four Pegs, who spearheaded the event along with his coworker and fellow chef Kahlil Kennedy. He says they were inspired after Bourdain’s cohorts dedicated June 25 to the legend.
“Bourdain was very influential in our lives, and the need to highlight that we as chefs can and do have issues needed to be brought out of the kitchen and into the forefront,” says Williams. “We wanted to find ways to let people know that, for one, it’s OK, and two, where they can find help.”
He then contacted his friends Eric Morris (Hull & High Water) and Lee Mayfield (Fork & Barrel), who also will be at the event, to garner interest, and soon the seed of an idea became a fully formed flower as more and more chefs came aboard. Five turned to 10, and 10 quickly turned to 20.
“Never in a million years did I think this many chefs would jump on board,” says Williams, who recently purchased Four Pegs in March. “It’s truly mind-blowing and really pulls at the heartstrings that so many people felt the same way about this issue.”
Williams says the large patio at Four Pegs is perfect for the first year of A Taste for Life, but in the future, he’d like to take over the street, as his restaurant sits on the corner of Goss Avenue and Spratt Street. The organizers also wrestled with the idea of doing a sit-down dinner versus a more casual tasting experience.
“But the more we got into the planning, we realized that if this is going to honor Anthony Bourdain, we need to do something he would love — street food,” explains Williams. “We decided setting up stations with samples and tastes is a much better way than 25 people in a room formally eating a coursed-out meal.”
Williams hopes to raise a lot of money for the mental health organizations, both of which will have representatives present at the event.
“I want to open people’s eyes to the idea that it’s OK to struggle,” he says. “Hopefully through the efforts of these organizations and by raising awareness, we can help stop people from taking their lives and help people who want to seek out help instead of holding it all inside because they don’t know where to go.”
A Taste of Life will take place from 4 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, June 29, at Four Pegs, 1053 Goss Ave. Tickets are $35.