Along with barbecued pork last year at Crystal Bay Casino courtyard, Hogs for the Cause co-founder Rene Louapre had something else.
“I have goose bumps,” he said. “This is how we started in New Orleans. It reminds me of Year 2 or 3.”
The event started in 2009 as a benefit barbecue for a boy named Ben Sarrat who had been diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. After 200 people turned out for the worthy cause, the organizers realized that they were on to something. Now, the organization is one of the largest nonprofit barbecue outfits across the country. Hogs for the Cause holds its primary event each year in early April at City Park festival grounds in New Orleans, along with other events year-round.
This is the fourth year that Hogs for the Cause will be held at the Crystal Bay Casino, which is famous for its connection to New Orleans. Last year’s event helped pay travel and medical expenses for two Northern Nevada families through the Renown pediatric oncology department.
Here’s this year’s schedule:
The event starts at 6:30 p.m. Friday at with Hogs for the Cause Gala at the Crystal Bay Steak & Lobster House.
New Orleans celebrity chefs (Silence of da Hams), Mike Brewer (executive chef of Copper Vine and past “King of Louisiana Seafood”), Tory McPhail (executive chef of Commander’s Palace and James Beard winner), Justin Kennedy (general manager/head chef of Parkway Bakery and Tavern), Chris Montero (executive chef of Napoleon House) and Jared Ralls (former executive chef and partner of La Boca and Primitivo) will be taking over the Crystal Bay Steak & Lobster House.
The chefs showcase their talents, with each preparing a specialty course paired with fine wines donated by Duckhorn Vineyards. Prizes also will be raffled off during the multi-course dinner. Seating is very limited for this event; tickets are $125 per person; and ages 21 and older only.
The party moves to the back courtyard starting at noon on Saturday when Silence of the Hams crew come together with several local chefs showcasing their culinary BBQ expertise in a friendly competition.
The chefs will have spent the entire night preparing several different smoked offerings. Over the past three years there have been many fantastic variations on roast whole hog including Cochon De Lait, one of Acadiana’s most famous and delectable dishes — marinated, pit roasted young suckling pig thin sliced and served on a po-boy. A staple at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival this is a dish not to be missed.
The chefs also will be judged on a side dish as well. In addition to the good eats, there will be adult beverages (and beverages for the kiddos), live outside music featuring seven-piece funk/soul band Collectivity and The Gold Souls from 1:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. There also will be a silent auction with celebrity autographed memorabilia along with items generously donated from local businesses. The outdoor BBQ will run from noon till 8 p.m. Admission to the courtyard festivities is free, with all ages welcome. All proceeds from food and drink sales and silent auction will benefit the Hogs for the Cause Foundation.
The Humidors, an eight-piece funk band from the Bay Area, play free on Friday in the Crystal Bay Casino’s Red Room.
On Saturday night, Con Brio headlines in the Crown Room. Blues rockers the Stone Foxes open the show. Tickets are $20 in advance.
The Crystal Bay Casino has a long-running connection with New Orleans – NOLA – featuring musical artists such as Dr. John, Galactic, Dumpstaphunk, Anders Osborne, The Neville Brothers, The Revivalists, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Carsie Blanton, Dragon Smoke, Rebirth Brass Band, Nikki Glaspie, Jon Cleary and coming Sept. 29, Tank and the Bangas.