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Top Chef donates money to charity in poker tournament

There’s nothing more fun than putting on your apron, rummaging through your kitchen cupboards and seeing what ingredients you have to create some home made culinary delights. If you agree with this then you sound just like me – a passionate cook and a foodie who loves everything from cooking with food, to using it as ingredients for face masks.

I find that one of the best ways to gain inspiration in the kitchen is to eat out at restaurants owned by top chefs, or at least restaurants which have top chefs like France’s Jacques Pepin on hand to cook the food. Have you ever been to a French inspired restaurant and wondered what they do to make the food so delectable? Intrigue is the first step towards inspiration, followed by research and practice. You might not ever manage to make Ratatouille or escallops quite like the French, but you can give it a good go. Another chef you might be interested to emulate is Franklin Becker. Having been cooking since a very young age, it’s no wonder his restaurants are critically acclaimed. Franklin’s restaurant in New York has a stunning menu which would appeal to many people, from the French to the average New Yorker.


But did you know that Franklin Becker, who is an executive chef at Brasserie in New York City, harbors other talents apart from cooking? The chef attended the Foxwoods Celebrity Chef Charity Poker Tournament and walked away as the big winner of the night. It’s amazing how he had time to perfect his poker skills since he’s also got to worry about running a top restaurant – maybe he played partypoker on his phone during the morning commute, or spent his evenings practicing poker with his friends. The charity poker event – which took place during the Second Annual Foxwoods Food and Wine Festival – saw the chef take first place and walk away with  $15,000. The money will be donated to Autism Speaks.

The chef and co-owner of Blue Ginger in Wellesley, Ming Tsai, was runner up  and took  $10,000 for her chosen charity – the Cam Neely Foundation in Boston. In third place came David Rabin (who owns  NYC’s club Lotus) and he donated his $5,000 winnings to the New York Cares and The Innocence Project.

Becker took the lead early on in the game by presenting a straight flush to the jack. The chef said  “I knew I was in good shape when I was dealt that straight flush. It was great to be a part of this year’s Foxwoods Food & Wine Festival and even better to be able to participate in this poker tournament for charity.” He then added that he intended to come back the following year to defend his title as the reigning champion.


The Charity poker gala took place in New York’s Chinatown. Becker was one of more than 60 renowned chefs who took part in the event, which saw the celebrated chefs cook a four-course tasting menu for the evening’s lucky guests.  Other culinary luminaries included Andrew Carmellini, Wylie Dufresne, Eric Ripert, David Waltuck and Geoffrey Zakarian.

According to event organizers, more than 5000 people attended the charity poker tournament hosted by the Foxwoods Food & Wine Festival, and the annual culinary festival lasted three days, allowing foodies to enjoy celebrity chef demonstrations, book signings, wine and spirits seminars. In addition, there were menu tastings and dinners, but most excitingly, the charity poker tournament.

It’s amazing how many different ways the chefs, cooks and bakers of tomorrow, from France to Timbuktu, can be inspired by the culinary geniuses at the top of the food chain.