I’ve known a few people in my time who could throw a party at the drop of a dime. As most of us know, in college a party can be defined as dropping a bag of chips on the table and asking someone to bring a six pack. The party that was thrown recently at The Lodge on Hilton Head Island was nothing like that. It was a massive undertaking and by the time the light was turned off, almost $10,000 was collected for Typhoon Victims in the Philippines.
We all know and love Orchid Paulmeier, owner and operator of One Hot Mama’s on the Island. If you don’t know her, you should. She’s a sweet, sweet wonderful lady with enough wattage in her smile to light up Las Vegas. She is from the Philippines, so naturally when she saw news reports of a massive typhoon devastating her homeland, she wanted to do something. She wanted to help. “A few of us talked about it and thought we’d offer 10% of our business on any given night to the relief effort.” Orchid tells me. “But then we thought we could do more”. Boy, did they!
Who exactly came up with the “Pop Up Dinner” idea is up for debate. Orchid says “It was Nick and the other guys.” The “other guys” sheepishly point back at Orchid. Regardless, who takes credit for eight area chefs coming together for a five course meal fundraiser meal isn’t the most important issue here. The fact that they pulled off an amazing feat in such a short time is the big story. “We decided to do this on a Friday”, Orchid says. “Within a day we had everyone on board, and had a menu locked down.” Some chefs offered up a course, others jumped in to help. But who would they invite? Ahhhh, welcome to party planning 2013 style. Enter social media. “We jumped on Facebook and let everyone know we were going to have this five course meal for Typhoon victims”, she says. Then it was just up to word of mouth. By Monday they had plenty of bookings but still were far short of the 80 seats they had hoped to fill on Tuesday night. That’s when all the chefs said they started sending out text messages trying to rally the island to support this cause. And they did.
By 6:30pm on Tuesday night, there was a line coming out of The Lodge on Hilton Head ahead of this dinner. No, The Lodge isn’t the type of place one would expect to enjoy a fiv course meal that included Pumpkin Consome with Pumpkin Broth and Fall Flavored Chicken Dumplings or a Warm Farro Salad with Brussel Sprouts, Sour Cherries, and Stone Ground Mustard Vinaigrette, but that is exactly the type of dish that was offered. The main course? Orchid’s Palabok. A traditional Filipino dish: Blend of Pork and Shrimp, Garlic Sauce, Rice Noodles. Lumpia: A Pork and Vegetable Spring Roll. Sound incredible? It was.
“We were just glad we were able to help”, says Chef Lee Lucier. The others felt the same way. This wasn’t about publicity. This wasn’t about marketing, this was about one lady concerned for her homeland making a phone call asking her friends on the island for help and them rallying behind her. Total money raised? $8,900 for the Philippine Red Cross. Bravo! And a big thanks to Chef Orchid Paulmeier, One Hot Mama’s and The Lodge Craft Beer and Burger Bar; Chef Nick Unangst, SERG Restaurant Group; Chef Yuri Gow, 843 restaurant; Chef Lee Lucier; Chef Brad Parker, Jameson’s Charhouse; Chef Shawn Ross, Reilley’s Grill and Bar; Chef Luke Lyons, The Fabulous Frankie Bones; Chef Ben Harris, Poseidon.
See you on TV.
- Chef Lee Lucier tells me he needs a break. He tells me he’s spent about “300 days a year” on the road traveling with Celebrity Chef Robert Irvine and his “Restaurant Impossible” production. “I’m not doing anything right now”, Chef Lee tells me. He just stepped aside from all aspects of the show and associations with Irvine’s two Low Country establishments “Eat!” and Nosh.
- They’ve been around for about a year now, so they are hardly a secret. But if you haven’t been to NEO yet, it should be on your short list. They bill themselves as a “Farm to Table Fare.” Calamari some of the best I’ve had in this area. The Shrimp and Grits with a Tasso Gravy and Poached Egg were wonderful as well. Look them up, you will surely Eat It and Like It.