Over the past few months, the chefs Donald Link and Stephen Stryjewski and their crew turned their restaurant Cochon into a summertime fried chicken dinner, set up an Oktoberfest on the street outside and assembled dumplings by the thousand for a one-night dim sum supper.
It was all part of a new approach for their nonprofit Link Stryjewski Foundation, and on Saturday the foundation’s marquee fundraiser takes a different turn, too.
Bal Masque has a new venue, the Sugar Mill, a change from its previous home at the Orpheum Theater, and a lower bar for entry, with tickets starting at $300, instead of $1,000 as in past years.
The headlining musical act is RAM, a Haitian band known for drum-driven roots music and a rollicking mix of styles.
The Lost Bayou Ramblers, Cha Wa and the youth development marching band the Roots of Music will also perform, along with burlesque dancer Trixie Minx and the Merry Antoinettes krewe.
As in past years, the Bal Masque gala is styled after a masked Carnival ball. And once again it gathers a krewe of high-profile chefs from around the country to prepare the food.
That includes Nina Compton of Compere Lapin in New Orleans, John Currence of City Grocery in Oxford, Mississippi; Suzanne Goin of Lucques in Los Angeles; Paul Kahan of Publican in Chicago; Mike Lata of FIG in Charleston; Richard Reddington of Redd in Yountville, California; Andrea Reusing of Lantern in Chapel Hill, North Carolina; and Frank Stitt of Highlands Bar & Grill in Birminghan, Alabama and Maggie Scales, the Link Restaurant Group’s pastry chef. Cure proprietor Neal Bodenheimer is also taking part at the bar.
The night before the gala, on Friday, chef Nancy Oakes, of Boulevard Restaurant and Prospect Restaurant in San Francisco, will lead a separate but related charity wine dinner at Calcasieu alongside chefs Link and Stryjewski.
This year’s Bal Masque follows a busy year for the Link Stryjewski foundation, which introduced a series of smaller food-focused fundraisers to expand its community engagement.
What hasn’t changed is the cause. The foundation’s aim is to help community organizations addressing some of the biggest problems the chefs see in New Orleans — the intertwined cycles of poverty and violence.
They focus their efforts on a few organizations, including Kingsley House, the Youth Empowerment Project and Grow Dat Youth Farm, and stick with them year-round, from grant funding to volunteer participation by restaurant staff.
For event tickets, see linkstryjewski.org.