When I first called Brian Luscher to ask about this year's Stewpot Alliance, Soup's On Luncheon, trucks with $10,000 of kitchen equipment had just pulled up to his soon-to-open restaurant in Deep Ellum. The chef was a little distracted, but not so preoccupied he couldn't take a few minutes to talk about the fundraiser that raised more than $340,000 this month last year.
For the past seven years, Luscher has teamed up with area chefs with the goal of throwing a fundraiser that raises the most amount of money possible, while not over-taxing already busy chefs. "Whenever you go to one of these charity events, it's always a monumental pain in the ass," he says.
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Luscher cites lack of equipment and other logistical challenges that can make catering these events tough. That's why he decided on soup. "It's real easy, and low impact on the chefs," Luscher says. Soup makes it easier to get a great list of participating chefs, and considering the event is held in January, it's a great way to warm those donors up.
Chefs for this year's event include Omar Flores (Casa Rubia), Chad Houser (Cafe Momentum), Danyele McPherson (Remedy) and Matt McCallister (FT33). The Mansion's Bruno Davaillon is also a regular participant, and his chefed-up submissions have always gotten a lot of attention. But in general, the tone is laid back and non-competitive. "Just show up with some soup, make it nice and get it on the table," Luscher says. The Omni Hotel, which is hosting the event, is charged with presenting the rest of the meal.
Tickets are $150. The Stewpot has been providing meals to at-risk and homeless people for the past 40 years. More than just a soup kitchen, the organization assists with medical needs, counseling, job training and more. For more information, or to purchase tickets, check out this website for the event.
As for Luscher's eponymous new restaurant: That equipment shipment is a good sign that the restaurant is close to opening. Luscher says that as soon as the equipment is functional, he'll start cooking, learning to scale all the recipes he's worked out in a smaller kitchen. "End of January, beginning of February," he says of a possible opening.