Open Door is a regular Eater feature where industry insiders open up. This week, Cioppino's chef-owner Pino Posteraro writes about the North American chef community coming together to help a food writer in trouble.
[Pino Posteraro with Bobby Flay]
Every so often something happens that reminds us how lucky we are to have our health, our family, and work that we love. That was my first thought when I heard that Max Jacobson, the Las Vegas food writer, had been terribly injured in a car accident just before Christmas. It seems that a driver who was distracted by texting ran a red light and struck Max, who was simply crossing the street. He suffered severe brain trauma and is still in critical condition in a Las Vegas hospital.
I met Max when he wrote about restaurants for the Los Angeles Times. He moved to Las Vegas many years ago and earned a reputation there as a wise and fair critic. He's the co-author of a restaurant guide called "Eating Las Vegas: The 50 Essential Restaurants." I liked him, respected his food knowledge, and appreciated his contribution to our industry.
So when my friend Rick Moonen, who has the Rx Boiler Room at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, came up with the idea of doing a series of fundraising dinners to help with Jacobson's huge hospital bills, dozens of chefs offered their help—everyone from Bobby Flay and Tom Colicchio to Susan Feniger and Thomas Keller. Last Sunday I was proud to join their ranks and offer one of the courses in a $1,000 per-person dinner at Rick's restaurant. The event was a spectacular success and I understand that, with the auction, it raised over $300,000 for the Jacobson family.
"We consider Max to be a brother, and when something happens to our family, we rally together for one another. The outpouring has been amazing," said Rick. "This dinner series is meant for everyone to roll up their sleeves and help Max any way we can. It was the busiest time of the year for chefs and restaurateurs, and yet everybody dropped everything to get involved. They are the most generous of people."
I agree that chefs are a special breed. At times like this, they prove it. Egos were put aside and the sense of camaraderie, of shared purpose, was wonderful. It's an honour to count so many fellow chefs and restauranteurs, in Vancouver and elsewhere, as brothers and sisters. We were all glad to contribute and happy to learn that Max is making progress.
Sadly it was a terrible tragedy that brought us together last Saturday in Las Vegas, but it's great to be reminded that our industry includes so many generous, caring people.