When Susie and John McQuade, founders of the Greyhound Adoption League of Texas (GALT) , asked chef Abraham Salum about teaming up with them for a fundraiser during the pandemic last year, the chef and owner of Salum restaurant jumped on the opportunity. The organization’s founders have been regulars at the restaurant for many years and are good friends with Salum.
“They’re an amazing group to work with, and they have done an incredible job for the puppies,” Salum says. “My husband and I rescue golden retrievers, so dogs are so important to us, and we will do anything we can to help.”
Salum is set to help the organization again soon at Cooking for the Hounds, an upcoming cooking demo, class and tasting with a Dia de los Muertos theme at his Uptown restaurant, Salum. On Saturday, Oct. 24, from 2 to 5 p.m., attendees will be treated to a four-course meal of avocado gazpacho with ancho chile shrimp, albóndigas en pasilla, chocoflan con cajeta and pan de muerto con café de olla.
Mark Followill, TV voice of the Dallas Mavericks and FC Dallas, is the honorary chairman of GALT and will serve as master of ceremonies for the event, which includes prizes for the best Dia de Los Muertos-themed attire and a live and silent auction.
Tickets ($135 per person) include two wine or cocktail tickets with a cash bar available, while VIP tickets ($175) include seats around Salum’s cooking counter for a close-up view. A virtual option is also available via Zoom with a $100 ticket price that includes streaming of the cooking demo, a $50 gift card to Salum and a bottle of wine.
Perhaps it’s true everywhere (though it seems especially apparent in Dallas) that support from local chefs and restaurants is essential to the fundraising mission of countless charities in the area. Salum believes there’s something in it for the chefs too. “All the charities we work with give me an opportunity to get out of the everyday routine, to create menus based on certain themes and the best feeling of knowing that you've helped someone,” Salum says.
“I have been very lucky in that I truly believe that the more you can give the more that you get in return,” he says.
A few weeks ago, Salum hosted a Hollywood-themed event for Aging Mind Foundation with dinner and dancing as part of the group’s Dazzling Dinner Party series. Salum particularly enjoyed the fabulous and glittery theme, but the upcoming Dia de los Muertos event is special in a different way.
Salum is Lebanese and Italian, and the monthly menu at his 16-year-old namesake restaurant reflects his Mediterranean heritage in a creative mix with Texas flavors and locally sourced ingredients. But Salum was born and raised in Mexico, where Dia de los Muertos, a holiday with pre-Columbian origins that honors the dearly departed, is widely celebrated.
“It’s probably my favorite holiday of the year,” Salum says. “It revolves around family, food and a mix of religious and pagan traditions.
“At home, we didn’t do much for the celebration, but I have traveled around the country and seen the way it’s celebrated in different places, and it’s fascinating. La Noche de los Rábanos in Michoacan, Hanal Pixan in the Yucatan — the altars and the typical food make it a very special and heartfelt celebration.”
Just a few days after the GALT fundraiser, Salum will take his love for the holiday on the road as the guest chef at a Day of the Dead dinner at Hotel Emma in San Antonio. This special evening begins at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 28, and the menu includes Yucatecan chicken tamales, black cod with pink pine nut mole, cactus pad salad and Day of the Dead bread with candied pumpkin and Mexican chocolate.
Tickets for the Cooking for the Hounds fundraiser are available on the GALT website, and details about the San Antonio dinner can be found on the Hotel Emma website.
Salum, 4152 Cole Ave. No.103 (Uptown). 214-252-9604. Open 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 6 to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.