Although it’s hard to compete with a cake-and-bourbon walk, leaders of the Edna Lewis Foundation hope attendees at the nonprofit’s upcoming dinner will also consider it a treat to learn about how the group has refined its mission over the past year.
“We’ve tailored it down more to what Edna was really about,” says board member John O. Morisano, owner of The Grey in Savannah. “We dialing it into a focus on women and folks of color, and opening up their path into foodways.”
Founded by chef Joe Randall in 2012, the Edna Lewis Foundation at first attempted to broadly support African-American food culture and its practitioners. But when The Grey’s Mashama Bailey last year took over as board chair, Morisano noted the foundation “has only grown marginally beyond its original reach,” pledging operational changes to ensure financial solvency and strengthen the group’s contributions to the culinary community.
Since then, the foundation has gained two new board members: Sara Franklin, editor of the essay collection "Edna Lewis: At the Table with an American Original," and Paul Fehribach, chef-owner of Chicago’s Big Jones. Morisano says the board is “actively on the hunt” for three more people to bring its membership count to nine.
“We’re just excited to start to get differing viewpoints into the board,” he says. “Some people are just sending us resumes, and other people we’re talking to: The goal is to have a full contingent by summer 2019 so we can really focus on the fundraising and educational elements.”
While Morisano says the foundation’s bank account is in better shape than it’s ever been, the group is still short the money needed to hire an executive director.
In addition to remarks from board members and the cake-and-bourbon walk, reportedly one of Lewis’ favorite leisure activities, the Sept. 24 dinner at The Grey will feature canapes from the foundation’s first two scholarship recipients; dishes prepared by Bailey, Fehribach, Vivian Howard (Chef & the Farmer), Matthew Raiford (The Farmer & The Larder) and desserts from Cheryl Day (Back in the Day Bakery.)
Tickets for the dinner are priced at $150. For more information, visit ednalewisfoundation.org.