Chris Shepherd launched Southern Smoke in 2015 after learning his friend and former sommelier Antonio Gianola was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Southern Smoke has raised $454,000 for the MS Society, making it the largest third-party fundraiser in a five-state area.
Last year, 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. To date, Southern Smoke has donated $984,000—both directly to people in need or to organizations that represent the needs of people in our industry. As Chris says, Southern Smoke was created to “take care of our own.”
This year, the proceeds of the 2018 Southern Smoke Festival will once again benefit the MS Society with a goal of donating $300,000 in honor of Antonio. Additionally, the Southern Smoke Foundation has expanded to include a year-round Emergency Relief Fund for people in the food and beverage industry, inspired by the success of last year’s Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.
As Chris says, Southern Smoke was created to “take care of our own.”
The Southern Smoke Festival will take place on September 30 using last year’s footprint, which doubled in size from previous years. The nine visiting chefs hail from all over the country and represent some of the best restaurants and barbecue in the nation.