He got things moving at the end of September by getting millions across the country to participate in Share Our Strength's Great American Dine Out, encouraging us to take a stand and help bring an end to childhood hunger in America. An episode of "Big Daddy's House" even featured the Dine Out and a participating restaurant, Rod's Steak & Seafood Grille in Morristown, NJ. This year's Dine Out broke 2008's record, and raised even more to help children across America through Share Our Strength's programs!
In October, Chef kept it going locally by teaching classes at Cathedral Kitchen, in Camden, NJ, and spoke to it's Culinary Arts Training program participants; giving them instruction and insights on the culinary industry, teaching them various culinary skills, and encouraging them to pursue their goals. At the end of October, he helped Cathedral Kitchen raise money for their programs by hosting their "Harvest for Hunger Silent Auction & Dinner" at the Grand Ballroom in Collingswood, NJ.
In November, Chef Aaron was honored for his efforts as this year's Great American Dine Out spokesperson at Share Our Strength's Conference of Leaders, held in Washington, D.C. There he accepted SOS's Plate of Honor, and brought the house down with his moving speech about growing up and watching his friends, classmates, and members of his community being too poor to afford to eat, and his call for action to not let today's children suffer the same fate.
The following week, Chef Aaron was in Oakland and Napa Valley, California for the 2009 World of Flavor, and to raise awareness about heart disease and stroke with the American Heart Association.
At the World of Flavors Conference, hosted at the Culinary Institute of America, Chef Aaron partnered up with Chef Ida Shen and Chef Bruno Wehren to host Barilla America Inc's take on "World Street Comfort Food";highlighting the different ways pasta can be easily made and enjoyed on your dinner table.
Then Chef shifted gears and helped raise awareness about heart disease and stroke. He went to San Francisco to appear on "The View from the Bay" with Spencer Christian and Janelle Wang, speaking on the importance of eating a healthy during the holidays to reduce your risk of heart disease and how eating healthy doesn't mean you have to skimp on the flavor. He wowed the studio audience and their tastebuds with his Spicy Szechuan Chicken Lettuce Wraps:
From there he teamed up with Vicki Williams and Florence McCray from the American Heart Association, as well as the folks from the Bread Project for a "Healthy Holiday Eating"neighborhood seminar and workshop in Oakland. There he did a cooking demo featuring some of his tastiest and healthiest recipes, met with fans, signed autographs, and shared his story about how having a stroke at the young age of 22 changed his outlook on life and his eating habits.
With all of that, you'd think he would take a break and just enjoy the holidays right? Come on, now, we're talking about Chef Aaron McCargo here folks. What better way to end 2009 with a bang than by preparing for one of his biggest projects coming up in 2010?
The day after Christmas, Chef Aaron gathered some of his best members of his culinary crew from past and present, a few family members (yes, Donavan was there!) and headed over to Cathedral Kitchen bright and early to start testing out recipes for his upcoming cookbook, slated for a fall 2010 release. (you can catch a clip of the action here)
As you can see, the remaining part of 2009 was an incredibly busy one for Chef, but don't expect him to slow down in 2010! With a cookbook coming out, his charity foundation starting up, a flavorful spice due to hit the shelves and numerous other projects in the works, it looks like you'll be seeing a whole lot more of this dynamic and talented chef in the year ahead.
As always, stay tuned to this blog and his website for all updates! And as Big Daddy would say, health, wealth, and prosperity to you and your family in 2010-HAPPY NEW YEAR!