By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Feb 22, 2018 at 10:02 AM

For the second year running, area chefs will be showcasing their time and talents at Dim Sum + Give Some, a charitable event that will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, March 25 at The Italian Community Center, 631 E. Chicago St.

The event, which raises money for the Kennedy’s Disease Association, will feature small plates made by 30 area chefs (including a slew of James Beard honorees) as well as cocktails and beer. 

But Dim Sum + Give Some is more than just another charitable event. It's the story of a community coming together to support a local chef whose life, work and response to tragedy has been an inspiration for many.

One chef’s story

Around this same time last year, the local dining scene was abuzz with the news that Daniel Jacobs of DanDan had been diagnosed with Kennedy’s Disease, a rare, currently incurable and non-treatable, genetic neuromuscular disease that, over time, severely impact patients' mobility and their ability to speak.

It was a particular blow for Jacobs who, at the time of his diagnosis, was on the cusp of opening his first restaurant with friend and colleague Dan Van Rite. But, rather than giving in to the despondency that often accompanies news of a terminal illness, Jacobs used it as an opportunity to bring awareness to the cause. 

His efforts began with the first annual Dim Sum + Give Some, an event hosted with the support of Jennifer Bartolotta and countless area chefs. The inaugural event raised $25,000 for the Kennedy’s Disease Association, and Jacobs says he hopes that the second annual event will raise even more.

30 chefs with big hearts

This year, the event will feature food from 30 area chefs, some of whom will make the trek to Milwaukee from other markets, including Madison and Chicago.

For many, participating in the event is a labor of love and a mechanism for showing appreciation to a colleague whose influenced their lives and work.

"Dan Jacobs is one of the most admirable people I’ve met in this industry," notes Johnny Hunter of Forequarter in Madison. "His kindness and support has been something that I look up to, and it influences the way I run my business and live my life. It’s incredible that he is using his diagnosis to raise awareness and money to fund research to cure Kennedy’s. I’m honored that he asked me to be involved, and I’m excited to be part of this event.

"We all love Dan," adds Thomas Hauck of c. 1880. "He’s a great dude, and it’s a no brainer to help out a friend. He could ask us to run a marathon, and I’d totally give it my best shot. For me, this isn’t just about charity. It’s about helping out a friend."

Chef Dan Fox of Heritage Tavern in Madison expresses similar feelings.

"I’ve known Dan [Jacobs] for a long time," he says, noting that they first met while working at Shawn McClain’s Spring restaurant in Chicago. "And in situations like this – when a chef friend needs you – it’s an easy decision to make ... you’ll bend over backwards for them. We all donate our time and food for good causes, but participating in something so personal makes it even more gratifying."

But being friends isn’t a necessary part of the equation. A variety of chefs are happy to participate in an event like this simply to support their fellow industry colleagues.

"I’ve never worked with Dan [Jacobs]," admits Dane Baldwin of The Diplomat. "But we’re in the same field and we all know what it takes to run a restaurant every day. It takes a lot of guts to go public with something so personal… and that’s the sort of thing that makes me want to do whatever I can to help. For me, this is the very least I can do."

In the end, events like Dim Sum + Give some are a true example of the unique sense of collegiality and friendship found among chefs in Milwaukee.

"The sense of community I’ve experienced since I moved to Milwaukee [from San Francisco] is like nothing I thought could exist in the culinary community," says Chef Gregory Leon of Amilinda. "It’s taken me aback in some ways. People are really supportive of one another, and what impacts one person really impacts us all. So when he asked us to participate, we didn’t even hesitate. It’s totally the right thing to do."

So much delicious food

In case you're curious about the food that's in store at Dim Sum + Give Some, here's the full list of all the participating chefs and their restaurants. It's enough to make you hungry just looking at it.

Tickets for Dim Sum + Give Some are $65 and available online. All proceeds will go to benefit the Kennedy’s Disease Association.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.