Delicious Food, a Worthy Cause and Good People

Photos | Krista Reynolds with Never Missa Moment Photography

A few months ago I began volunteering at People Serving People (PSP), a local homeless shelter for families in Minnesota. I started in the children’s library reading books and coloring and then moved to tutoring and playing house with five-year-olds. All of my volunteering experiences at PSP have been great, especially the unusual one I just took part in.

I recently spent a Monday night serving guests in PSP’s dining hall. Chefs for Change is a monthly event that invites the public to an elegant dinner hosted by top chefs from the Twin Cities. Thirty to 40 guests enjoy a five course meal and wine pairings. The restaurants donate everything from the meal, including recipes for guests to take home. This generosity allows PSP to receive 100 percent of the proceeds.

If you are unable to afford a place at the table, you can take part by volunteering. As a recent college grad, I decided this was my best option. I arrived at the shelter two hours before the dinner and was warmly welcomed by veteran volunteers. After introductions we all set to work and transformed the dining hall into an intimate setting.

Seven The Steakhouse soon joined us and filled the kitchen with their plates, ingredients and delicious smells. Executive chef Andre Smith and executive sushi chef Devane Sumontha gladly introduced their menus to the volunteers, and made sure we knew what we would be serving. The chefs also chose a few volunteers to be their assistant in the kitchen.

I jumped at the chance to work next to a top chef! Chef Devane needed help plating his sushi masterpieces and asked for my help. After a demonstration, two other volunteers and I were intensely focused on the art of sushi. Twenty minutes later we had assembled 40 Japanese salads and 40 salmon roll dishes.

In between prepping and serving I spoke with Seven’s Wendy Schallock about the restaurant’s involvement. Upon learning about PSP’s Chefs for Change dinners, Wendy knew that Seven had to get involved. “Our owners are from Minneapolis, and everything that we do is within the city. … And both of the chefs are happy to do this on their night off.”

Knowing that the chefs were cooking on their only night off, I had to speak with them. Smith was happy to donate his time. He said, “This is such a worthy cause. [PSP] is an organization that deserves of a lot of praise and I’m sure things will work out for people who have this type of assistance. I’m glad I could participate. … Hopefully I’ll be able to do it again, and as well as the food I’ll do the music, I play the saxophone and piano.” Sumontha told me that this was his first time volunteering and it was a great experience; he too hopes to participate in Chefs for Change again.

Volunteer Andrea LaChapelle feels the same way: “I think it’s a great thing to contribute to. I can’t necessarily afford to buy the meals, but I can definitely volunteer. I get to try the food, it’s for a good cause and I get to meet new people.” She has participated four times already.

To volunteer or purchase a ticket for dinner, or if you are chef interested in hosting Chefs for Change, contact Amy Jenkins at 612.277.0221 or

People Serving People

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