Some top names in the worlds of food and music are coming to town next week, tapped by a team of New Orleans chefs to support a pair of local causes.
The occasion is the Bal Masque, the first major event from the Link Stryjewski Foundation, created by chefs Donald Link and Stephen Stryjewski, the chef/partners in Cochon, Peche Seafood Grill and other restaurants.
The event takes the form of a top-dollar costumed Carnival ball, held at the Orpheum Theatre on Saturday, Jan. 9, with Jimmy Buffett & the Coral Reefer Band headlining and Mario Batali among a brigade of big-name chefs serving the food. Tickets are $1,000 each.
While masks are required for guests at the party, the event’s goals are undisguised, and they’re aimed at one of the city’s most starkly blatant needs.
The Link Stryjewski Foundation was created “to address the persistent cycle of violence and poverty, as well as the lack of quality education and job training opportunities available to young people in New Orleans,” according to the foundation’s mission statement.
To that end, Bal Masque this year will support Kingsley House, which from its historic campus in the Irish Channel provides an array of community services for youth and families; and the Youth Empowerment Project, a Central City-based nonprofit that provides life skills training, job readiness, mentoring and other services for local young people.
Chefs Link and Stryjewski and their partners in the Link Restaurant Group have been active in many local causes. In some cases that’s been behind the scenes, in others the support has much more public, like their prominent roles in the annual Hogs for the Cause benefit and the Emeril Lagasse Foundation’s Boudin Bourbon & Beer.
For their own event, Bal Masque, the chefs invited many high-profile peers from the culinary world to prepare and serve food around the Orpheum. Joining Batali will be a host of James Beard Foundation award winners and nominees, including Suzanne Goin of Los Angeles; Mike Lata of Charleston, S.C.; Andrea Reusing of Chapel Hill, N.C.; Richard Reddington of Napa Valley; Paul Kahan of Chicago; Nancy Oakes of San Francisco; and Frank Stitt of Birmingham, along with Maggie Scales, the Link group’s pastry chef.
As a prelude, Batali will led a private dinner at Calcasieu, the Link group’s private event venue, on Friday, Jan. 8. Tickets to this dinner are an optional “add-on” to Bal Masque tickets, for a total of $1,500.
For more details and tickets see linkstryjewski.org.
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.