Benefit for Haiti at Chaz 51 Steakhouse in Venice
The Haitian owner and chef, Charles Amherst, partners with World Central Kitchen to benefit the Caribbean nation still reeling from political turmoil and the August earthquake.
A little over a month ago, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti: a country that seems to be perpetually in crisis. Still reeling from the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, the timing could not have been much worse. Still in a political crisis, with elections postponed until next year, street gangs run many neighborhoods. That’s according to U.S. officials who have put the country on its “do not travel” list because of danger to tourists. Still, the average Haitian struggles to find food and people are starving. That’s why a local restaurant owner is doing what he can to help from afar.
Charles Amhurst spent the first nineteen years of his life in Haiti. It was there, at the elbow of his mother and grandmother, that he learned cooking basics.
“It would start with peeling the chocho, peeling the potatoes, the plantain, and eventually I stepped up to where I could actually cook after I peeled it,” Amherst said.
Years later, he moved to the US and while working for a large hospitality corporation, saw much of the country — but decided to settle in Venice, Florida, where he’s now owner and chef at his own restaurant, Chaz 51 steakhouse. It will be the venue this Thursday, for a benefit for the people of Haiti.
“I feel like the desperation is dire. It has been and it’s just not getting better. So, with this event we are trying to put food on the table where it’s needed most.”
He’ll create a special menu for the event, charge ten dollars at the door, and feature live music, poetry, and fellowship with all proceeds going to Haiti through a partnership with Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen.
“So what they do, they go to Haiti, they hire a group of guys - teach them the trade, to cook, then feed the community through that group of people. They can go anywhere and use that training to better their lives- And that’s something I want to encourage and I want to drive that and I want to help that in any fashion that I can,” Amherst said.
He adds that the program’s educational component will be the greatest help.
“That’s what Haitians are all about, we work hard, we are dedicated. We are honest. We are good people. We just find ourselves in a very unfortunate situation. Cannot catch a break.”
It’s a mission Amhurst is passionate about — particularly in the long suffering Caribbean nation he still loves.
“Children, women, pregnant women, the education level, the poverty level. It’s that part that I’m very concerned about, that is why I want to support World Central Kitchen in any way that I can. I will continue the partnership with them and volunteer my time. Anything that they want that I can do, I will do to help,” Amherst said.
When: Thursday, Sept. 30, from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Where: Chaz 51 Steakhouse, 549 US 41 Bypass North, Venice, FL