Three years ago, while coaching a kids’ basketball team, Ben Shewry, who travels the globe feted as one of the world’s 50 best chefs, had a confronting brush with reality.
“A child came to practice without a ball, I asked him where his basketball was and he said ‘I don’t have one, my parents can’t afford it’,” Shewry recalls.
He felt saddened, thought about how lucky his own kids were and wondered what he could do to change things. A short time later, he came across Helping Hoops, a charity that tries to give kids who don’t get too many chances a few more shots. Shewry remembers what it was like when he went along to see their work at a local housing estate.
“The first visit there is intimidating, it was immediately apparent that life on the estate was very different to the life that many other Australian’s enjoy. Drug and alcohol abuse are on public display most visits I’ve made there. At times the atmosphere is volatile and uncertain and certainly is not conducive to a stable supportive childhood,” the chef says.
He signed on as a volunteer and was amazing by how quickly Helping Hoops changed things.
“After just two weekly visits I could see the profound and positive difference they where making in the lives of the children. Over the course of a year I got to know the children well and bore witness to many amazing small achievements and “wins” for these beautiful kids,” Shewry says.
“Helping Hoops is about giving children opportunities, support and mentoring that they don’t have access to in everyday life.”
Now Shewry’s doing his bit to back the charity with a very special dinner at his Melbourne restaurant, Attica, next month, alongside a rock star line of the nation’s best chefs.
The $1000, 7-course meal will feature Rockpool’s Neil Perry, Maggie Beer, Quay’s Peter Gilmore, Dan Hunter from world’s top 100 restaurant Brae, Melbourne superchef Andrew McConnell from Cutler & Co. and Supernormal, Michael James from Tivoli Road Bakery, Sydney’s Analiese Gregory from Bar Brose and Tad Lombardo from Cioccolato Lombardo.
The meal includes matching wines. It will be held on Monday, August 15 at Attica in Ripponlea.
Every last cent from the 50 seats sold on the night will go to Helping Hoops. Already, half the seats have sold since they went on sale at noon today.
Shewry has no doubt it will sell out in the next few days.
If you’re keen to be part of a history making meal for a good cause, tickets are available online here.
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