My day with Mario Batali and Gail Simmons to support local food pantries plus a recap of the Meijer LPGA Celebrity Chef Cookoff.
One of the greatest unexpected gifts of being a food and travel writer is the opportunity to meet some amazing people who have inspired you along the way.
When I told you recently that I would be meeting Mario Batali, I knew it would be a day to remember but I had no idea the scope of how special this day would be for me personally and for my food career.
The day started off with a visit to the John Knox Food Pantry just 15 minutes from my house. It was so inspiring to meet the folks who head up this effort and learn more about the hunger needs here in West Michigan.
Of course, I was also geeking out a bit and couldn’t believe I was standing just feet away from the gorgeous Gail Simmons herself and Mario’s famous orange Crocs.
One thing I love about Gail Simmons is that she is also a busy working mom of a toddler girl just four months younger than Jacob. We chatted about juggling family needs while away on business travel, something I think about and deal with frequently.
Later that day I headed downtown to the Grand Rapids Public Museum to guest judge the Meijer LPGA Celebrity Chef Cookoff with Mario and Gail.
Of course, when you’re Mario Batali you don’t have to bother changing outfits. Three local bakeries, Cakabakery, Field & Fire and Sweetie-Licious (all three of which I shop from regularly) competed in the cook-off to support Meijer Simply Give program to help feed those in need across the Midwest.
We had so much fun tasting their creative pastries including this Key Lime Pie with Michigan Blueberries. The big winner of the evening was Field & Fire who received $2,500 in Meijer gift cards. The tournament also made a $10,000 donation to a local Simply Give food pantry of the bakery’s choice.
All in all, the entire event helped raise $750,000 which will be split among more than 200 local food pantries throughout the midwest.
Of course, I couldn’t leave without getting a shot of Mario’s Crocs and Gail’s sassy heels. A huge thank you to Meijer for including me in this special event that does so much to help my local community. It was an honor to be there and a day I will never forget.
To learn more about the Meijer LPGA Classic and Simply Give initiative, check out this fun video. Spoiler Alert: These female golfers are HUGELY inspiring.
Disclosure: Meijer compensated me for my time to participate as a judge and share about my experience. Thank you for supporting the brands that make The Lemon Bowl possible. All thoughts are my own.
Grand Rapids is amazing, but if you’re looking for more exotic travel, check out my Wanderlust Travel board on Pinterest!
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