On March 13, pastry chef Gracie Nguyen, 23, was badly injured in the crash at the SXSW music festival in Austin that left four people dead and another 21 people hurt. Nguyen was in the hospital in Austin for about a week, until she was able to be moved out of the ICU and back to Houston for rehabilitation and recovery.
Nguyen is a single mother, student and pastry chef at Mark's American Cuisine, and because of her bubbly personality, she's made a lot of friends in the Houston restaurant industry. These fine folks are banding together to host a fundraiser at Big Star Bar on Sunday, April 13, with all of the proceeds going directly to Nguyen's medical care.
The event is spearheaded by Joshua Martinez of Goro & Gun and Adam Dorris, formerly of Revival Market, who are bringing back the "Ghetto Dinner Series" for one night only. The hugely popular pop-up dinners, which took place a few years back at Grand Prize, were served on paper plates with plastic utensils, but featured interesting, quality ingredients prepared by local chefs.
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In addition to the dinner, there will be a bake sale, courtesy of Rebecca Masson of Fluff Bake Bar and many of her baking peers, as well as a silent auction featuring items donated by local artists. We've also heard that Alison Cook is auctioning off a dinner for two with her as she reviews a restaurant.
And then there's the dunk tank. Event organizers have wrangled Pooja Lodhia of ABC 13; Dutch Small, local PR fella and foodie; Katharine Shilcutt of Houstonia; Eric Sandler of Culturemap; and yours truly to take turns in the dunk tank. That's right, kiddos. If you want to dunk me in a tank of cold water, come on out on Sunday and take aim. But I predict Sandler will be the most popular target.
If you can't make it on Sunday, there is a fundraising website set up to help with Nguyen's medical expenses. Her friends and family are hoping to raise $150,000, but the site has raised only about $37,000 so far. Donate now or come to the Gracie Nguyen Fundraiser by Ghetto Dinner this Sunday at Big Star Bar at 2 p.m.