When I first heard that Chef Tre Wilcox was auctioning his culinary services to raise funds on CharityBuzz.com, I assumed his philanthropy stemmed from personal experience. The charity, Bridge Breast Network, helps cover the cost of treatment for Dallas women with breast cancer. Wilcox is the Dallas chef whose appearance on Bravo's Top Chef in 2007 capitulated him into foodie celebritydom. Today he is the executive chef of Marquee Grill, a Dallas culinary epicenter.
I expected Wilcox to tell me about a mother, a sister, or a friend who had suffered -- someone he could have helped. But Wilcox is donating his time only because Bridge Breast Network is a good cause. It says a lot about Wilcox and Bridge Breast Network.
Bridge Breast Network is the brain child of Dr. Sally Knox, a breast specialist in Dallas who often found herself donating her services to uninsured patients. Costs mounted for endless lab reports, X-rays, and medications, and she realized her community faced a serious problem.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, "women without private health care insurance who have breast cancer receive this diagnosis later and die sooner than privately insured women with breast cancer." Knox gathered together former patients, colleagues, and friends to find a solution.
Today the nonprofit 501(c) organization consists of over 235 physicians in the Dallas region with access to 49 medical facilities. Donations fund treatments such as biopsies, medication, and chemotherapy that have the capacity to save lives. Patients receive nearly 10 times the amount donated in medical care, reports the Bridge Breast Network, due to the strong volunteer network it has built.
When an event coordinator approached Wilcox about auctioning his talents, he agreed immediately. Wilcox is a Texas native who worked his way up through the ranks of the kitchen to become the head chef of Abacus, one of the top-rated restaurants in Dallas. But it wasn't until his appearance on Top Chefs that the nation took notice of the charismatic chef with exceptional skill. While he did not win the competition, he became one of the most popular contestants in Top Chef history. In 2010, Wilcox returned to the show as an All-Star.
The highest bidder will win a two-day training session with Wilcox at Marquee Grill, a tasting menu dinner prepared by the chef, and unlimited opportunity to quiz him about what it's like to be on TV. But be prepared; this chef doesn't mince with words. "The world is a really brutal place," Wilcox told me, "and there are people willing to help, and those who may not really give a f*ck. People like me want to give." For him it's simple; people are suffering but he can help.
Bidding ends on Wednesday, February 29, at 2:30 p.m., EST. Click here to bid.
February 28, 2012
Minyanville: http://www.minyanville.com/Kathleen Culliton
The Business of Charity: Tre Wilcox, Top Chef All-Star and Marquee Grill Executive Chef