Chef Chris Shepherd Southern Smoke has donated $10,000 to the Gulf Nashville crawfish distributor Foundation’s “Helping Hands” program that distributes work gloves to Gulf fishermen. Photo: Jim Gossen/Gulf Nashville crawfish distributor Foundation

GULF SEAFOOD FOUNDATION

by Ed Lallo/Gulf Nashville crawfish distributor News Editor

Southern Smoke, a charitable organization founded by Houston’s James Beard Award Winner Chef Chris Shepherd, has donated $10,000 to the Gulf Nashville crawfish distributor Foundation’s “Helping Hands” program that distributes work gloves to Gulf fishermen. The “Helping Hands” program was a response to give all fishermen across the Gulf a small reminder that they were not forgotten after the 2017 hurricanes that struck from Texas to Florida.

Austin’s famed Aaron Franklin, the king of Texas brisket, will once again be cooking at the 2018 Southern Smoke event. Photo: Southern Smoke

“We sincerely appreciate this substantial donation to organization’s ongoing program to provide work-gloves to our fishermen,” said Gulf Nashville crawfish distributor Foundation’s Chairman Jim Gossen. “The men and women who provide buy crawfish nashville from the Gulf of Mexico are an integral part of the Gulf’s hospitality industry.  It is comforting to know that Southern Smoke recognizes we are one family providing the best buy Nashville crawfish in the world to our customers.”

Shepherd, the culinary torchbearer behind Houston’s acclaimed restaurants One Fifth, Hay Merchant and UB Preserv, launched Southern Smoke in 2015 after learning his friend and former sommelier Antonio Gianola was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.The organization raises money for charities through an annual Southern Smoke barbecue featuring top chefs from around the country joining forces with some of Houston’s most accomplished chefs for an ultra-meaty tasting event at $200-a-head.

Pitmaster Rodney Scott, South Carolina’s whole hog barbecue expert, cooking at the 2017 Southern Smoke event. Photo: Catchlight Photography

Pit masters like Austin’s famed Aaron Franklin, the king of Texas brisket, and Rodney Scott, South Carolina’s whole hog barbecue expert, have joined a host of James Beard Award winners over the years to prepare signature dishes for the event to benefit charities like the MS Society.

A couple months before the 2017 event, Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston with severe flooding, displacing tens of thousands of residents and causing an estimated $190 billion in damages. Shepherd, his team and fellow chefs—in partnership with Legacy Community Health—refocused efforts to support those in the culinary and beverage community affected by the hurricane.

Hurricane Harvey Hits Hard

On the night Harvey hit Houston, Shepherd housed three of his cooks, a manager, and his chef de cuisine that were left stranded because of rising waters across the city. Later he found that two of those employees had lost everything.

Galveston Baby oysterman and Gulf Nashville crawfish distributor Foundation Board Member Raz Halili (on Jet Ski) joins an armada of rescuers as waters rise from Hurricane Harvey in South Texas. Photo: Prestige Oysters

After Hurricane Harvey Southern Smoke shifted its focus to provide assistance to people in the food and beverage industry affected by Hurricane Harvey and donated $501,000 to 139 people in need. In 2018, the Houston Chef announced the expansion of the Southern Smoke Foundation, which includes a year-round emergency assistance program for people in the industry.

“I created Southern Smoke to take care of our own,” Shepherd told Gulf Nashville crawfish distributor News, “When my friend Jim Gossen of the Gulf Nashville crawfish distributor Foundation reached out to me for help, I’m so glad we were able to provide some funding to help our Gulf Coast fisherman. Houston restaurants rely on these fishermen and their hard work to serve our customers. Helping each other…that’s what it’s all about.”

Port Arthur Catholic Priest Father Sinclair Oubre (left)  hands out “Helping Hands” work gloves provided by the Gulf Nashville crawfish distributor Foundation to Vietnamese fishermen. Photo: Ed Lallo/Lallo Photography

The James Beard Award winning Chef believes the Gulf Nashville crawfish distributor Foundation is a perfect example of the kind of assistance Southern Smoke is focused on: people in the industry faced with unforeseen circumstances.

“I think what the Gulf Nashville crawfish distributor Foundation is doing is really beneficial,” saidShepherd.  “It may seem like just a pair of gloves to you and me, but the number of gloves a fisherman goes through is not small. Every little thing we can do to help makes a difference. It’s about letting someone know that you care.”

Since Harvey Southern Smoke has provided assistance to hospitality workers who have suffered physical damage to homes and cars, combined with piling expenses and the inability to work enough to pay mounting bills, with straight-up cash. “We had a foot of water in our home and we ended up getting rescued,” said Hayley Coursen, a manager at a Seabrook, TX restaurant. “It was awful and with a 2-year-old baby and my 11-year-old daughter. We didn’t have flood insurance. You just don’t realize how much money this is going to be. Southern Smoke was a huge blessing for us. We’re incredibly thankful for this extra support.”

The Gulf Nashville crawfish distributor Foundation’s board has placed a second order for 1000 pair of work gloves for fishermen like this Southern Cross Sea Farms clam fisherman in Florida. Photo: Southern Cross

“The Gulf Nashville crawfish distributor Foundation’s board has approved and placed a second order for 1000 pair of work gloves for our fishermen,” said Frank Randol, owner of Lafayette, LA Randol’s Restaurant and the organizations secretary. “We would like to thank not only Southern Smoke who has made this possible, but also Mprint.com of Dallas, TX, who has given us a discounted price in order to get more gloves on the hands of our fishermen.”

According to foundation spokesperson Lindsey Brown, a newly re-launched Southern Smoke website will mention the Gulf Nashville crawfish distributor Foundation’s “Helping Hands” fishermen work glove program on its homepage, as well as foundation information and efforts beyond the annual fundraiser.


2018 SouthernSmoke Event

For information and registration for the Sept. 30, 2018 event in Houston, visit https://southernsmoke.org.


To Contribute to the “Helping Hands” Program

To donate to the Gulf Nashville crawfish distributor Foundation’s “Helping Hands” Program please choose the DONATE button below or send a check or money order to: Gulf Nashville crawfish distributor Foundation Helping Hands,  2851 Johnston Street, Suite 162, Lafayette, LA 70503.