Chef Takeover Dinner in Austin to Benefit Local Schools

Hosted by nutritional education nonprofit Common Threads

Nutritional non-profit Common Threads is celebrating their 15th anniversary on September 12 with a series of Chef Takeover dinners in LA, Washington D.C., Chicago, and yep, you guessed it, Austin.

Courtesy of Galdones Photography

“We equip under-resourced communities with information to make affordable, nutritious and appealing food choices wherever they live, work, learn, and play,” says Linda Novick O’Keefe, the organization’s founding CEO.

“We build meaningful partnerships to support the whole child, while addressing inequalities, like hunger, that can prevent education from being a pathway to mobility for students. Texas is a fairly new market for us, but we are excited about the traction we are seeing throughout the state. The commitment of SNAP-Ed funds from the Texas State of Health & Human Services has been game-changing in supporting a sustainable and thoughtful expansion of our programs.”

In Austin – the non-profit’s headquarters – the organization has been working within our school system to provide nutritional education and support. “We are particularly excited about the strides we have made with in-school programming in Del Valle ISD and our out-of-school-time programming in Austin ISD,” says Novick O’Keefe. “Our approach is multi-layered. While our main focus is nutrition education, our lessons teach children how to embrace cultural diversity, while also supporting math, reading, science, and physical education curriculum.”

While directly supporting the important work of the organization, the dinner will also celebrate the many contributions chefs have made to Common Thread’s longevity.

“Common Threads was built by our chef community,” says Novick O’Keefe. “Chefs are some of the most giving people I know, and they also intuitively understand what we have been and are trying to accomplish using food as our vehicle for change. Our chef family understands the power of food, the joy of nourishing those you love, they know intuitively that the table is an anchor for the family and any relationship. Chef Takeover is exactly that.”

The event is a hosted dinner at Pershing (2415 E. 5th St.), 7-10pm, and featuring dishes from:

Courtesy of Galdones Photography

Jo Chan (Eberly)

Natalie Gazaui (Fonda San Miguel)

Nic Yanes (Juniper)

Amanda Rockman (Café No Se)

Mark McCain (Jeffrey’s)

Jason Dady (Chispas)

Berty Richter (TLV)

And the chefs are certainly bringing their A-game. “The menu looks incredible,” Novick O’Keefe enthuses. “I have eaten food from almost all of the chefs who are participating, but these are new dishes that I haven’t had. If I had to select one dish that stands out, it would have to be Chef Jason Dady’s Chilled Maine Lobster Cioppino. It has a lot of my favorites – clams, mussels, and heirloom tomatoes. I am also super excited about the pastry collaboration between Amanda Rockman and Natalie Gazaui, a meringata with coconut, white sesame, and mango.”

The community experience is just as important as the food. “Sharing the table is one of the most intimate experiences we have,” says Novick O’Keefe. “And that’s why much of the meal is being served family style. I also appreciate hearing the story behind the chef’s dish – it’s really amazing how their personal experiences show up in their recipes in such meaningful ways.”

Funds raised by the Austin dinner will directly support in-school cooking and nutrition education and programs in Del Valle ISD and out-of-school programs in Austin ISD. “For us, this is a time to celebrate 15 years as an organization, all we have accomplished as a collective team and a time to look forward optimistically to the organization we want to become,” Novick O’Keefe shares.

“Texas programs are a big part of our next chapter, and we are grateful for our Austin family that has helped us build a foundation for meaningful community collaboration.”

General tickets are $150 per person and for tickets and more info visit

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