Saints serve it up for Pierre Thomas’ ICAN Foundation _lowres

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD -- New Orleans Saints running back Pierre Thomas

Which is more difficult for Saints running back Pierre Thomas?

1) Maneuvering at the line of scrimmage on gameday, dodging bulky defenders on his way to the end zone, or ...

2) Handling a serving tray holding hot plates at a restaurant, steering clear of well-dressed, famished customers en route to tables.

On Monday night, the answer was sizzling.

Thomas hosted Celebrity Servers at Morton’s The Steakhouse, taking over the annual event from former Saints standout Jonathan Vilma.

“My first time doing this (event) last year, that was kind tough because the plate was kind of hot,” Thomas said, smiling. “And you know, you want to make sure you don’t touch somebody’s food. And you’re trying to maneuver it. I think that’s a little tougher than running between 300-pound guys.”

Proceeds benefited Thomas’ ICAN Foundation, which aims to challenge childhood obesity through improved education, healthy eating and exercise.

Celebrity servers included Thomas, Erik Lorig, Joseph Morgan, Kenny Stills, Brandon Coleman, Akiem Hicks, Robert Meachem and Cameron Jordan. Former Saints running back Fred McAfee hosted the silent auction.

Thomas’ message is to enjoy the spoils of living in a culinary capital like New Orleans, but find time to incorporate a healthy lifestyle.

Since Thomas, 29, was a youth, childhood obesity in the United States has nearly tripled, with about 25 million considered overweight or obese. Nearly three-fourths of those youths are at risk for hearth disease, type 2 diabetes and other preventable cardiovascular diseases.

Thomas wants to help.

He and a longtime friend, Vinnie Calabrese, president of the foundation, spent their childhood years riding their bikes, playing football, basketball and baseball and making up games.

“Nowadays, you see kids hanging around the house, playing video games, which I’m not saying is bad,” Thomas said. “But they also need to get more active in their lives.”

Monday’s menu started with hand-passed crabmeat canape with Remoulade over fresh cucumber, ahi tuna crisps and shrimp cocktail. After the cocktail hour, the courses offered several hundred Saints fans, many of whom took in Sunday’s devastating loss to Carolina, a tasty retreat.

The meal started with cornbread crawfish cake with Thai creme sauce and mixed green salad served with Dijon vinaigrette. An 8-ounce filet followed with mashed potatoes and steamed asparagus.

If you had room for dessert — or found room — a double chocolate mousse cup followed, or the mini cheesecake. Or mixed berries. Or all three.

Just don’t forget to take a walk Tuesday.