Megan O'Kain Lotay

Earlier this week, in her article “San Antonio: Be Proud to be a ‘Big City, Small Town,” Suz Burroughs pointed out that cities like ours with a small town feel and evenly-connected human network are great at solving problems.  The theory is that together we can better communicate and coordinate through meaningful, collective action.

Suz is absolutely right and the 2nd Annual Chefs for Chefs Brunch at Biga on the Banks on Sunday, Jan. 19 is a shining example of connection, coordination and collaboration to make a difference.

The crowd at the 2013 Chefs for Chefs brunch. Courtesy photo.
The crowd at the 2013 Chefs for Chefs brunch. Courtesy photo.

The annual brunch, hosted by Biga on the Banks with the help of volunteers from all corners of San Antonio’s culinary world, benefits an individual in need working in the local restaurant industry.

Bruce Auden and his partner, Perny Shea, of Biga on the Banks came up with the idea for the first Chefs for Chefs Brunch last year when Emma, the daughter of Biga’s Executive Sous Chef Daniel Dirmeyer, was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor.  Dirmeyer and his family were faced with the anxiety of dealing with their child’s serious illness as well as quickly mounting medical bills.

Auden and Shea saw the brunch as opportunity to help ease the financial burden so the family could focus on helping little Emma get better.  Since that first Chefs for Chefs Brunch, Emma has made great progress and continues to build her immune system and get better, one day at a time.

More than 300 people attended the 2013 Chefs for Chefs brunch for Team Emma Dirmeyer. Courtesy photo.
More than 300 people attended the 2013 Chefs for Chefs brunch for Team Emma Dirmeyer (center). Courtesy photo.

The success of last year’s event, and the difference it made to the Dirmeyer family, inspired Auden and Shea to host the event on an annual basis.  This year’s Chefs for Chefs Brunch will celebrate the life of Barbara Wolfe and help her husband, Steven Silbas, defray the costs of her care during her battle with cancer.  While awaiting a kidney transplant and facing medical bills without insurance, Wolfe suddenly passed away last month.

Wolfe and Silbas have been pillars of the culinary community for many years.  Together, they owned Casbeers and Casbeers at the Church, which later became San Antone Café and Concerts before it’s closing in May 2011.  The cafes were havens for musicians from near and far – and a favorite hangout among those in the restaurant industry.  By all accounts, Wolfe and Silbas were always giving, generous and lent a hand to all.  Now, it’s time to lend a helping hand to Silbas.

Barbara Wolfe and her husband, Steve Silbas Courtesy photo by Claude Ascolese.
Barbara Wolfe and her husband, Steve Silbas Courtesy photo by Claude Ascolese.

The culinary community has stepped up and planned an amazing event that is sure to honor Wolfe’s memory and raise much needed funds to help ease Silbas’ financial burden. The heavyweights of the San Antonio cuisine scene will be there dishing up their best, including the Biga team, Blanca Aldaco (Aldaco’s), Mark Bliss (Bliss), John Brand (Las Canarias & Ostra), Jason Dady (Tre Trattoria, Two Bros BBQ & Umai Mi), Zach Lutton (Zedric’s), Steve McHugh (Cured at Pearl), Jesse Perez (Arcade Midtown Kitchen), Diana Barrios Trevino (Los Barrios, La Hacienda de Los Barrios & Viola’s Ventanas), Jeff White (Boiler House), Damien Watel (Chez Vatel & Bistro), and Lisa Watel (Bite).

And of course, no brunch is complete without a Bloody Mary and Mimosa bar, which is sponsored by Belvedere and Chandon.

Supporting the Chefs for Chefs Brunch is another opportunity to contribute to what makes San Antonio so special.  One day, we will be a “great big city,” but it’s amazing that in a “big small town” like ours, there are so many willing to lend a hand to those in need.  Tickets are still available for $125 all-inclusive and can be purchased online or at the door.  I hope to see you there.

Megan O’Kain Lotay and her husband, Jesse, have lived in San Antonio for two and a half years.  Megan works in marketing at USAA and in her spare time keeps a blog, The San Antonio Palate, to chronicle her dining adventures.  She is also working on a local arts and crafts

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Megan O’Kain Lotay and her husband, Jesse, live in North Central San Antonio (in the 'burbs) and are passionate about San Antonio, enjoying all it has to offer, and taking advantage of dog-friendly dining...