Home HIC’s Culinary Futures Event To Benefit Underserved Chicago Youths
February 16, 2023

HIC’s Culinary Futures Event To Benefit Underserved Chicago Youths

Harold Import Company’s Culinary Futures benefit returns to Chicago on March 5, concurrent with the Inspired Home Show 2023. Proceeds from the 2023 Culinary Futures event will benefit No Matter What, a not-for-profit that invests in youth in the Chicago area through mentorship, career readiness training and mental health healing.

This year’s event aims to raise funds to help No Matter What buy and renovate a building into a community youth center next to the Denzel Thornton Memorial Garden, a community garden created on the South Side of Chicago by No Matter What and its founder Kenneth Griffin, a 2010 Culinary Futures scholarship recipient. The garden is named for a friend of Griffin and a fellow Culinary Futures alum who was fatally shot in 2016.

Griffin, who became a Chicago police officer after starting his career in the culinary and hospitality businesses, launched No Matter What in 2015 to provide programs for young people to help lay the groundwork for their successful futures. (Griffin is pictured above in the Denzel Thornton Memorial Garden)

The 2023 Culinary Futures benefit is set for Sunday, March 5, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Zhou B. Art Center at 1029 West 35th Street in Chicago. The Culinary Futures event will be emceed by NBC Chicago reporter Leeann Trotter. The program includes food prepared by high school culinary arts programs and friends of No Matter What; an open bar, a silent auction and a performance by Grammy-nominated blues musician John Primer.

Tickets for the 2023 Culinary Futures event can be purchased here.

Harold Import Company (HIC) and Culinary Futures since 2008 has provided underserved youth with culinary training in high school, job placement and college scholarships. Through its partnership with No Matter What that began in 2022, the Culinary Futures program in Chicago has evolved from its original culinary scholarship focus to reaching deeper into inner-city neighborhoods to open underserved youths to culinary education and career opportunities, said Robert Laub, president of HIC and founder of Culinary Futures.

“Culinary arts and nutrition will be a big focus at the community center,” Laub said, noting plans for the community center to include a fully equipped professional-grade kitchen. “Kenny puts a big emphasis on helping develop life skills and career readiness.”

The Culinary Futures program also raises money to support Millie’s Camp, a summer camp for underserved youths to learn about culinary arts and hospitality management named in honor of Laub’s mother, Mildred Polansky, former president and owner of HIC.

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