10 Questions: Terri Provencal

The chair of Share Our Strength Taste of the Nation for North Texas is busier than ever these days as she prepares for the big fundraising dinner.

Since 1988, annual events in up to 20 cities around the country have raised more than $70 million toward the prevention of childhood hunger in America--an important goal, considering 24 percent of children in Texas alone are at risk.

Provencal served as group publisher for Modern Luxury magazine before starting her own publicity and media representation firm in December. But right now, it's all about Taste of the Nation. Restaurant's such as Shinsei, Bijoux, Fearings, Abacus, York St., Nonna and Stephan Pyles have signed on for the shindig, scheduled for May 17 in the Fashion Industry Gallery on Ross.

But with some people donating $10,000 for a 10 top, doesn't this price the lower middle class out of the charity market...?

1. So you're not the sort who goes by the 'if I can't see it, it's not happening' philosophy, are you?
No. Absolutely not. We can't look the other way when it comes to hunger.

2. What prompted you to get involved?
Child hunger, to me, is simply unacceptable. And Share Our Strength is the leading organization working to solve childhood hunger.

3. Of course, at $5,000 for a table for 10, the dinner excludes those of us in the lower middle class...
We would never want to do that. We need to raise as much as possible. We do have some discount programs in place. You won't get to pick your table, but you can come to the dinner. There are $500 tickets and tickets discounted from that. I don't live in a household that can throw out $5,000 for a table, either.

4. One of your sponsors is Grey Goose. Want to get the kids started early?
[Laughs]. What's amazing about the liquor companies is that they support so many things. In my book, that's OK.

5. Does running such a charity make you feel guilty when you eat out?
Honestly, I'm such a bleeding heart--so I do struggle with that. But these events bring awareness to people who don't ever need to think about hunger.

6. What's Stephan Pyles like?
This is his 21st year. He's absolutely a stalwart in his efforts on behalf of Share Our Strength. All the chefs participating in Taste of the Nation have full access to his kitchen. And he's a marvelous fundraiser--sold out his table for $10,000. He's just a great guy.

7. At the dinner, do you ever sit there and think 'I wish I was at that chef's table'?
Yes. Well, sometimes. Last year I sat at the Charlie Palmer table and they did such a great job. It would be fun to be at John Tesar's table--he's coming back to Dallas just for this event--or Stephan Pyles tables. But Stephan and John's tables sold out first--and I love my table this year.

8. Do you have a favorite restaurant?
Well, that's a hard question to answer.

9. Sure is. Where does all the money from this dinner go?
We give 100 percent of it to organizations fighting hunger: the North Texas Food Bank, the Wilkinson Center and the Center for Public Policy.

10. With so many groups trying to get money from the few who have any to spare, is it difficult?
It is difficult. There are so many choices, so many fundraisers looking for dollars that aren't as readily available. That's why we have to work so much harder. You have to be prepared to augment ticket sales with other ways to raise money.

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