Few fundraisers go from zero to six figures in dollars collected in their first year, but that’s what happened to Bourbon & Bowties when it launched in 2010.
The food and drink extravaganza, held annually at Corbett’s: An American Place, pulled in $211,000 in 2011, and this year, on June 14, the group is aiming for an ambitious $312,000.
Why so successful? Is it the cause (to help the Kosair Children’s Hospital Foundation), the volunteers (including 15 leading chefs from around the city) or the crowd (626 people come, some of whom donate dizzying amounts of dough on the spot)?
It’s all the above, said Dean Corbett, owner of Corbett’s and a key organizer in the annual gala.
“This has to be my favorite event of the year,” said Corbett. Tickets cost $125 (600 of which will be sold) and $300 (only 26 will be sold, and those grant access to the kitchen and some special treats.) “It’s safe to say that those 26 will get an extensive array of culinary goodies.”
Of course, those who don’t will be well fed, too. Each of the 15 chefs (from 610 Magnolia, Lilly’s, Proof on Main, Vincenzo’s, Asiatique, Jack Fry’s, Porcini—just to name a few) gathered for the event will have a station around the property (the event occupies the restaurant, spills out onto its patio and into a massive 80-foot by 100-foot tent outside), allowing guests to make leisurely stops for bites.
In addition to virtually endless eats and drinks, the event features a silent auction, and a “cash call” where guests donate on the spot.
“We’ve had two people donate $25,000 right then and there; it was amazing,” Corbett said. “For that we try to get $50,000 in donations. You see some incredibly generous people step up.”
Side note: What’s interesting is how many times Bourbon & Bowties comes up in conversations with local chefs about totally different subjects. These guys and gals work for free alongside competitors for long hours and walk away from the exhausting event talking about how much fun it was and how they want to do it again. Corbett said that leads to no shortage of volunteers.
“What these people do for causes like this is amazing to me,” he said, referring to B&B and many other fundraisers chefs do. “Of those 700 portions they make, the organizers give them a dollar per each for their costs, but some of them just turn that back to the charity.”
Most of those are restaurant owners, he added, business people who aren’t exactly making a killing in this supposedly post-recession market.
“A lot of these guys just give. They don’t take a thing,” Corbett said of his colleagues. “That’s part of what makes this such a cool event.”
Want tickets? Act fast. Bourbon & Bowties has sold out quickly in the past, so click here if you want to go.