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For Gourmands and Gourmets: Share our Strength's Taste of the Nation Dallas is May 17th! Print E-mail
by Sharon Adams    Tue, May 5, 2009, 01:31 pm
Craighead Green Gallery hosts Auction Preview party for the 21st Annual Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation® Dallas
Chef RJ Cooper of Washington DC Hotspot Vidalia Will join us on Sunday, May 17th, 2009


20aKennethCriagheadTerriProvencalStephanPylesCarmaletaWhiteley.jpg(May 1, 2009) — Terri Provencal, chair of the Share Our Strength Taste of the Nation® Dallas, welcomed Stephan Pyles, Honorary Chef and Carmaleta Whiteley, Honorary Chair, along with sponsors and guests to the auction preview party hosted by Kenneth Craighead and Steve Green, owners of Craighead Green gallery. Champagne from Ste. Michelle Wine Estates was flowing while Provencal announced Chef RJ Cooper of Vidalia in Washington DC will join fellow Taste of the Nation chef brethren Stephan Pyles and John Tesar on Sunday, May 17th for the 21st annual Share our Strength’s Taste of the Nation® Dallas.


(Photo of Kenneth Craighead, host; Terri Provencal, Chair; Stephan Pyles, Honorary Chef; Carmaleta Whiteley, Honorary Chair. Photo by Shawn Samuell)

           "In any room, in any city, RJ's a great chef and great leader," says Event Chef Chair, John Tesar. Chef Cooper is no stranger to Share our Strength's Taste of the Nation. In addition to being honored as the 2008 Chef of the Year for Share our Strength, he also serves as the Chair of Taste of the Nation's Culinary Council. Chef Cooper's culinary accolades are many including his award as Best Chef Mid Atlantic by the James Beard Foundation in 2007.

          "Trust me, whoever purchases Chef Cooper's table of ten for our May event will be flying back and forth to DC they will be so hooked on RJ," says Tesar, who will lead his fellow chefs in this exclusive gastronomic event. Guests will enjoy a seated dinner with wine pairings prepared by one of nineteen legendary chefs paired with wines. Tables of ten will range from $5,000 to $10,000 for a minimum four-course dinner. Individual tickets are $325 each.

           “Childhood hunger is unacceptable,” said Terri Provencal, event chair. “In Texas, 24.3% of children are at-risk of hunger that means that tonight they might not have a meal to eat. In Dallas, almost 22% of households live in poverty.” Provencal stated.  Carmaleta Whiteley will serve as Honorary Chair.

          Along with Chef Tesar other participating chefs and their restaurants will include long time supporter honorary chef Stephan Pyles as well as Dean Fearing, James Beard finalist Sharon Hage, Julian Barsotti, and more. Taste of the Nation Dallas® will raise the critical funds needed to support the national organization’s efforts to end childhood hunger in Dallas and across America. The area charities benefiting from this year’s event include the North Texas Food Bank, Wilkinson Center and Center for Public Policy Priorities.

Participating Restaurants and Chefs as of April 21, 2009: Tables of ten will range from $5,000 to $10,000 for a minimum four-course dinner. Great idea to get friends together, go Dutch Treat and each person pay $500!

1.  Abacus
2. Bijoux, Chef Scott Gottlich 
3. Charlie Palmer at the Joule , Chef Scott Romano 
4. Craft, Chef Anthony Zappola
5. Fearing’s, Chef Dean Fearing
6. The French Room, Chef Marcus Strietzel

7. The Landmark Restaurant, Chef Jeff Moschetti
8. Sangria y Tapas Bar, Alberto Lombardi              

9. Nobu, Chef Matt Raso 

10. Nonna, Chef Julian Barsotti

11. Salum, Chef Abraham Salum

12. Shinsei, Chef T. J. Lengnick, Lynae Fearing and Tracy Rathbun
13. Stephan Pyles, Chef Stephan Pyles
14. York Street,Chef Sharon Hage
15. Cibus, Alberto Lombardi 

16. Local, Tracy Miller  

17. RJ Cooper/Vidalia

18. Chef John Tesar : He is using his own name for dinner 

19. Tei-An, Teiichi Sakuri, Chef’s asst. Ayako Thomspon

About Share Our Strength:

Share Our Strength is a national organization working to make sure no kid in America grows up hungry. We weave together a net of community groups, activists and food programs to catch children at risk of hunger, and surround them with nutritious food where they live, learn and play. We work with the culinary industry to create engaging, pioneering programs like Taste of the Nation, Share Our Strength’s Great American Bake Sale®, Share Our Strength’s Operation Frontline® and Share Our Strength’s A Tasteful Pursuit®. For more information, please visit

Generous support from national sponsors SYSCO Corporation and Food Network, American Express, Brown-Forman, S.Pellegrino Sparkling Natural Mineral Water, and local sponsors Grey Goose Vodka, Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, Fashion Industry Gallery (f.i.g.) ensure that 100 percent of ticket proceeds go to Share Our Strength’s efforts to end childhood hunger in America.  

With more than 12 million children facing hunger in America, Taste of the Nation events promotes awareness of Share Our Strength’s efforts across the nation. The funds raised through Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation support the most effective organizations that feed hungry children, as well as advocates that are pursuing long-term solutions to the challenge of hunger, both locally and nationally.

“An end to childhood hunger in the United States is within reach,” said Bill Shore, Founder and Executive Director of Share Our Strength. With all the participants in Taste of the Nation Dallas sharing their strengths, we are creating more resources for the greater good of Dallas and our great nation.

Tables for Taste of the Nation can be purchased by calling 1-877-26-Taste or visiting here. 

Chef RJ Cooper: This is Chef RJ Cooper’s first year serving as Chef Chair for Taste of the Nation D.C., though he has been involved with Taste of the5x7RJLowRes.jpg Nation for 20 years.

As a teen growing up in suburban Detroit, Cooper imagined himself a rock star chef playing in the kitchen with his mother and Sicilian grandmother, who made everything from scratch. His first stint in a professional kitchen was during high school, when he took an apprenticeship at a local bakery.  Right away he knew that the culinary world was his calling, Cooper, decided to further his education by attending The Culinary School at Kendall College in Illinois.

In the late 1990s, Cooper moved to Washington, D.C., working at numerous restaurants before joining Vidalia in 2004 as chef de cuisine. Jeffrey Buben took on the role as mentor for Cooper, teaching him the fundamentals of running a business and keeping systems in place. His Modern American philosophy shines through as Cooper uses a delicate hand to transform ordinary products into composed and elegant dishes.

In 2007 Chef Cooper won the prestigious Best Chef Mid Atlantic by the James Beard Foundation, and has been nominated for Best Chef by the RAMW with restaurant nominations for Best Fine Dining Restaurant RAMW.

Chef Cooper believes in philanthropy and actively participates in Share Our Strength's Taste of the Nation, is the Chair of Taste of the Nation's Culinary Council and in 2008 won Share Our Strength’s leadership award for Chef of the Year.

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