On October 14, local chef Mark Jones will speak for the first time publicly since his life-changing accident this Spring. In the early morning of May 20, Jones suffered a spinal cord injury when he plowed his truck into the rear of an 18-wheeler in Phenix City. After undergoing major surgery and five months of intense therapy, Jones will return to Columbus to speak in front of his customers and colleagues about the singular organization that has provided the most support during this difficult time.
That organization is The Giving Kitchen.
Mark Jones. | Image courtesy of Yalla Public Relations.
Founded by former chef Ryan Hidinger and his wife, Jen, The Giving Kitchen is a non-profit organization that provides financial support and emergency assistance to over 1,000 restaurant workers in crisis.
After a devastating cancer diagnosis in 2012 wrecked the Hidingers' dreams of opening their own restaurant, Ryan's colleagues and the Atlanta community came to the couples' aid by raising support for them during their time of need. It was from this effort that The Giving Kitchen was born.
2018 marks the first year that The Giving Kitchen has serviced the Columbus area, and their service has been extremely instrumental in providing support to Mark Jones and his restaurants since his accident.
Now, Jones is ready to support them. On October 14, at the first Columbus Chefs Collaborative Dinner, Jones will address the community for the first time since May. Also speaking at the event is Jen Hidinger-Kendrick, founder of The Giving Kitchen.
The Columbus Chefs Collaborative Dinner will kick-off on October 14 at 5:00 p.m. with the Goldens' Cast Iron Cocktail Hour in the Rivermill Garden. There, guests will sample speciality cocktails and snacks cooked on Golden’s Cast Iron Cooker. After the Golden’s Cast Iron Cooker Cocktail Hour, guests will head inside for a sit-down, six course dinner prepared by six local chefs.
This year's chefs will each prepare one course each, and represent some of the top restaurants in the Chattahoochee Valley. They are: Morten Wulff of Morten’s at Old Town, Trevor Morris of Trevioli Italian Kitchen, Tom Jones of Mabella's Italian Steakhouse and The Loft Columbus, Mark Jones of Smoke Bourbon and BBQ, The Black Cow, Mark's City Grill, Hunter's Pub and Steakhouse, Flip Side Burgers & Tacos and Plucked Up - Chicken & Biscuits, Jeff Brammer from Rivermill Event Center, and Rocco Caggiano from the Country Club of Columbus.
All proceeds raised from the event will be going directly back to The Giving Kitchen to further their efforts serving restaurant industry workers in need.
Jones said he has been amazed to see Giving Kitchen at work doing what they do best. "It's been a great thing experiencing Giving Kitchen as they work for restaurant industry employees," said Jones. "They are a blessing to this industry. A lot of people in the restaurant industry need support."
In his speech, Jones said he plans to talk about the many ways The Giving Kitchen can help restauranteurs in their time of need. He also plans to thank Columbus' citizens for the unending support they have shown him and his entire family.
"I am honored to be able to address my community and represent the restaurant industry as an example of the good work of Giving Kitchen," Jones explained. "Being able to thank my community in person is going to be a humbling experience."
When Jones was asked to speak at the Collaborative Dinner, he took the decision very seriously. "It was a tough decision as I have my good days and bad days dealing with this life-changing experience," said Jones. "However, I want to tell my story on how the Giving Kitchen and the Columbus community have helped me. "
When asked what else he wanted to share with us before speaking at the event, Jones was clear and concise. "I am truly blessed to have the overwhelming support of the Columbus community, restaurant industry and The Giving Kitchen. I would not be where I am today if it weren't for the giving hearts of everyone. It has made my road a lot easier. Raising awareness about Giving Kitchen and their mission to help others in the restaurant industry is very important to me." ◼︎
If You Go:
What: Columbus Chefs Collaborative Dinner
When: October 14 at 5 p.m.
Where: RiverMill Event Center
Cost: $125 includes a cocktail hour and snack, a 6 course dinner prepared by Columbus' top chefs with a live broadcast from the kitchen, beer and wine, and keynote speakers Jen Hidinger-Kendrick and Mark Jones.