Eat, Drink and Raise Money with Food Fundraisers


The Great Salt Lake Chili Affair draws thousands of guests to sample chili from 16 different restaurants, to raise money for The Road Home’s shelters and programs.


Everywhere we turn nowadays, there are people in need, Floods, fires, earthquakes, shootings, homelessness, and other problems have given us a reason to step up. So many members of the restaurant community are helping to raise money for worthwhile causes. It gives the rest of us a way to put our money where our mouth is.

Thousands of guests enjoying themselves at  Great Salt Lake Chili Affair, which benefits The Road Home’s shelters and programs.

Before I list some upcoming events, let me talk a little about one that I attended last month — the Great Salt Lake Chili Affair, which raises thousands of dollars for The Road Home’s programs for the homeless. Over 2,000 people came to sample chili from 16 different restaurants and chefs, and vote for the “People’s Choice.”

Before the masses of chili-lovers descended on the the Salt Palace, a group of “celebrity” and media judges got to taste-test and declare their favorites.  I was one of those lucky folks. (Disclaimer here: I bought a full-price ticket to attend.)
Restaurants serve their signature chili to over 2,000 guests at the Great Salt Lake Chili Affair fundraiser.
I was one of the lucky judges who voted on the Most Original chili at the Great Salt Lake Chili Affair, which benefits The Road Home shelter.



Here’s a shout-out to the waiter, Nick, who carried my tray laden with entries. He was part of the Haight Bench Ward’s Young Men and Young Women and their leaders who graciously donated their time to wait-staff duties such as busing tables and filling water glasses. Great job, guys!

I had my own waiter, Nick, to carry my samples to the judging table. The bread and salad were used as “palate cleansers” in between bites of chili. This is at the beginning, before we got to the chili. 


Having judged a few other chili contests, I’ve realized that there’s the classic red-sauced, meaty-with-beans chili that’s the staple of tailgate or Super Bowl parties.  Then there are chile verde and white-bean versions that derive a lot of their flavor from green chiles and cilantro. Then there are all the variations —  the meat might be chicken, pork, beef, turkey, chorizo or no meat at all.  Some take on an earthy,  paprika-heavy flavor; some have a hint of smoke. Some have a sinus-clearing, eye-watering, steam-inducing heat. Some switch up the beans from red, pinto, white, black, or a combo.

There were 16 participating restaurants, and some of them served 2 or 3.different kinds of chili.

My job was to vote on “the best original,” so I looked for the chili that was unusual or different — but in a good way. Each bowl of chili was numbered, and I tried NOT to match up numbers with the restaurants. I didn’t want to be influenced by whose chili belonged to which chef or restaurant. My vote was for #8, a rich, cheesy Chili Con Queso which I found out later was made by chef Steve Berzansky of the Cantina Southwestern Grill.  Alicia Gleed of The Road Home told me the overall favorite was made by Grand America Hotel’s chef Fernando Saberanis. It was listed as Chorizo Beans Chili.

You missed it this year, but keep it in mind next September. It’s a fun family event, with a supervised children’s area, lots of good music and entertainment.

And now, here are some upcoming fundraisers where you can be involved:

FLOURISH BAKERY’s SUNSET DINNER, Sunday, October 15th from 5- 8:30 PM on the
rooftop of Capitol Theatre, 50 W 200 S, Salt Lake City. Reserve your seat at Ç’s Flourish. Login: Crowdrise  Password:giveback23   OR, got to

Flourish Bakery trains and employ individuals in recovery from substance abuse disorders or being released from incarceration. Through teaching the art and skills of baking, “Flourish proves a community of support, mentorship and friendship,” according to one of the founders, Aimee Altizer, a classically trained pastry chef.  By giving people job skills and life skills to build a career, the program helps reduce relapse and recidivism.

Students go through a 15-month paid apprenticeship that includes how to make breads, custards,  cakes, and croissants. They also learn about money management and teamwork, in order to help them move forward in their lives.

SLOW FOOD UTAH’S 13TH ANNUAL FEAST OF FIVE SENSES:  The Feast is Sunday, October 15, at 5:30 p.m. at Westminster College’s Jewett Center for the Performing Arts, 1840 South 1300 East, SLC. The Feast is SFU’s primary fundraiser to give  grants to local l farmers, artisans, school and community gardens, and education programs.

This year’s theme is “One World, Many Flavors”, celebrating unity through the amazing diversity of flavors. Tickets are available at and are $100 for SFU members and $125 for non-members. Wine pairings are available for an additional $35.

Participating chefs include: Jen Gilroy of Meditrina; Raul Mendez of Frida Bistro; Wayne Mankinen of Bon Appetit; Lavanya Mahate of Saffron Valley; Harmons Specialty Cheese; Kris Tart of Wasatch Creamery; Philip Grubisa of Beltex Meats; Park City Culinary Institute, Salt Lake City Campus; Tom Grant of Blended Table; Jung Kim and Jungmin Kim of Ahtti Korean Munchies, Spice Kitchen Incubator; Brooke Woffinden of Urban Pioneer Foods; and Cache Toffee. Wine pairings will be provided by Francis Fecteau of Libation LLC, beer by Red Rock Brewing, craft cocktail by Manoli’s and High West Distillery, and coffee by Caffe Ibis. This year’s event is being sponsored by Westminster College Environmental Center, Sysco Intermountain, and Muir Copper Canyon Farms.

Slow Food Utah is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing everyone to the table to celebrate the pleasures of good, clean, fair food. The website,, provides a variety of information and resources applicable to the Slow Food Movement, both in Utah and around the world.

LOVE WITHOUT BORDERS FUNDRAISER FOR EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS IN MEXICO: Rico Brand, Frida Bistro, Red Iguana, and El Paisa Grill,  are teaming up for what promises to be a great foodie fundraiser on Oct. 27. That’s all we know so far, but I’ll be adding to this post as soon as I get more information!   

CORNER BAKERY CAFE’S FUNDRAISER FOR FEEDINGTEXAS.ORG: Soon after the flooding in Houston hit, this restaurant chain launched a fundraiser for Hurricane Harvey relief.   For donating just $1, you get a sheet of eight coupons discounting Corner Bakery‘s soups, salads, sandwiches or pasta. The donations go to  The coupons expire October 31, so hurry and buy yours, and use them soon!  I’ve used several of the coupons I bought, and it’s been fun to try some different things on the menu.