For many, food and happiness go hand-in-hand. Heavenly aromas wafting through the air, the satisfying crunch of fresh fruits and vegetables, the exciting flavor combinations that mingle on the tongue—you really can’t help but smile. This is why merging culinary with Le Bonheur (French for ‘happiness’) seems only fitting.
This summer, LEO Events teamed up with celebrated Memphis restaurateur Chef Kelly English (owner of Restaurant Iris, the Second Line, Magnolia House, Fino’s, and Panta) for Le Bon Appetit, a bi-annual fundraiser for Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, a 255-bed facility that serves as a primary teaching affiliate for the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and one of the top facilities in the country for neurosurgery.
Chef Maneet Chauhaun (Chauhaun Ales & Masala House, and Chaatable) served her signature gol guppa Indian street food (semolina puffs, black garbanzo, roasted cumin, tamarind chutney, and mint cilantro mango water) during the event. Photo courtesy Catersource staff
Le Bon Appetit started in 2012 as a small-scale culinary showcase of chefs from all walks of life to cook
for a cause.
“We all have talents, we all have skills, and that’s what we can use to give back,” said Chef Kelly in a 2016 article in Le Bonheur’s Securing the Promise newsletter titled Cooking
for a Cause.
As the event grew, English partnered with LEO Events: he supplied the chefs, and LEO Events handled the logistics.
“LEO Events really drove all the nuts and bolts and heavy lifting of everything we did,” Chef Kelly adds.
Chef Ryan Trimm (Sunrise and 117 Prime) prepared wood-grilled pork loin with purple hull pea succotash, pepper relish, and pea tendrils. Photo courtesy Catersource staff
This summer’s event, held at the Crosstown Concourse in Memphis, brought together more than 30 award-winning chefs from Memphis and across the country to showcase their signature dishes.
“The great thing about the chefs who come is that we really look at who’s not only doing great food,” Chef Kelly says, “but also who’s doing great work in their own communities.”
Over the course of its five total events, Le Bon Appetit has raised more than
$3 million to help Le Bonheur Club (a philanthropic women’s organization that established Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital) fund specialized medical equipment, child-specific programming, and technology. The 2022 event raised $346,000.
“We’re having fun yes, but also helping to change the world,” current Le Bonheur President Michael Wiggins says.
Chef Philip Dewayne (Park + Cherry Café) presented Scallop Oasis (pan seared scallops, fava bean puree, pomegranate and pork gastrique, and micro radish). Photo courtesy Catersource staff
However, Le Bon Appetit is a lot more than just a culinary event. The chefs take time to serve families, tour the hospital, and even hit the kitchen at FedExFamily House (Le Bonheur’s home-away-from-home for out-of-town families), where they participate in a Chopped-style breakfast battle using fun, kid-friendly ingredients like candy bars, sugary cereals, and marshmallows.
“There’s so many celebrity chef events out there, but this one is different,” says Cindy Brewer (LEO Events), “because this is a whole brotherhood.”
Chef Kelly says he intends to continue to grow Le Bon Appetit.
“I don’t think we’ll ever go annual though, I think bi-annual is the right spot,” he says. “The last thing we want to be is just another thing on someone’s calendar. We’re very aware that Memphis is not New York City, Chicago, or New Orleans, but it’s so much fun to bring people in and surprise them with the talent that we have.”
George Brewer (left, son of LEO Events owners Cindy and Kevin Brewer) was diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was just 10 years old, resulting in a hospital stay and surgery at
Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. Photo courtesy LEO Events
Host, Chef Kelly English (in blue jacket, owner of Restaurant Iris, the Second Line, Magnolia House, Fino’s, and Panta) poses for a photo at Le Bon Appetit 2022. Chef Kelly is an avid supporter of Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital and one of Le Bon Appetit’s founders. Photo courtesy Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital
Chefs Kelly English (right, owner of Restaurant Iris, the Second Line, Magnolia House, Fino’s, and Panta) and Erling Jensen (left, Erling Jensen’s) showing off their Le Bonheur socks at Le Bon Appetit, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital’s largest fundraising event. Photo courtesy LEO Events
One of the most unique offerings during Le Bon Appetit was Chef Maneet Chauhaun’s gol guppa street food, where mango water is poured into a puff pastry cup and then the entire dish is eaten in one single bite. Photo courtesy Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital
Le Bon Appetit brought some of the nation’s most celebrated chefs together in Memphis. Pictured (Left to right): Chef Keith Clinton (Black Sheep Catering), Chef Meredith Clinton (Black Sheep Catering), Chef Dave Krog (dory), and Chef Kelly English. Photo courtesy LEO Events
Chef Ben Smith (Tsunami) presented pickled shrimp with watermelon, basil aioli, and watermelon-mint gastrique. Photo courtesy Catersource staff
Ancho garlic crushed beef tenderloin carpaccio with cabbage, apple, golden beet, cucumber slaw, shisho, Thai basil, and Ms. Cindy’s vinaigrette from Chef Karen Carrier (The Beauty Shop, Bar DkDc, Another Roadside Attraction Catering, The Mollie Fontaine Lounge, and Back DO/Mi Yard). Photo courtesy Catersource staff