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Celebrity chef Legasse hosts Landfall fundraiser to benefit girls school

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By Krys Estes

Contributing Writer

A few hundred hungry guests will have a chance this week to get a taste of celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse’s cooking, while supporting the startup of an all-girls charter school in Wilmington later this year.

Lagasse, who appears frequently on the Food Network, known for his entertaining stories and catch phrases, will prepare a luncheon and private dinner when he visits the Wilmington area Jan. 28-29. The events, which range in price from $200 to $10,000, will support the Girls Leadership Academy of Wilmington, North Carolina’s first all-girls charter school that is opening in August.

The events have already drawn strong interest from the public. The Jan. 29 luncheon had to be moved to a larger venue after more than 200 people reserved tickets.

Lagasse will begin his visit by hosting a dinner on Thursday, Jan. 28, in a private home for up to 15 couples. Lagasse will prepare the meal, pair the wines and share his good humor with guests. Tickets to the exclusive event are $10,000. On Friday, Jan. 29, he will host a luncheon at Country Club of Landfall for as many as 300 guests, where he will supervise the kitchen and mingle with guests. These tickets are $200.

“These events will raise awareness, friends and dollars to support the opening and initial operation of the academy,” said Todd Godbey, president of the GLOW Foundation.  “He is coming for free since all of the money raised from the events will remain in the community to benefit the students.”

The partnership between Chef Lagasse and the GLOW Foundation started with Judy Girard, a former president of Food Network, who retired to the Wilmington area where she became chair of the GLOW board of directors.

Godbey said the mission of the GLOW Academy is to empower girls to reach the highest levels of personal and academic achievement, molding future leaders and life-long learners.  A primary goal of the GLOW Academy is to close the achievement and opportunity gaps for first generation, college-bound young women by focusing on college preparedness, enrollment and graduation, he said.

One GLOW Academy student, Aaliyah Jones, will begin to experience her career goals be shadowing Lagasse at the luncheon.

“Jones indicated her desire to ‘be a cook’ when we asked her what her dream job would be,” said Margee Herring, GLOW board member.  “She has since modified that to ‘chef.’”

Jones’ mother shared that she  is always watching food shows and loves to bake, Herring said.

“Jones is shadowing Emeril, just watching and absorbing how he manages the kitchen and staff, how he sets priorities, how he engages with the public,” Herring said. “It’s an exciting day for her and we believe that serves as an example of the kinds of opportunities GLOW hopes to present to our girls.”

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