Local Restaurants Come Together to Raise Money for Best Buddies

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Thirteen local restaurants are pairing up with Best Buddies to help raise money to open up new chapters across the state.

Best Buddy Chef Challenge is a night where restaurants challenge each other and work with buddies in the organization. The money raised benefits the organization, with the goal of enhancing the lives of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

State Director of Best Buddies Iowa Blake Campbell said a few buddies are paired with a restaurant, and he or she will help plate dishes and serve them to guests.

In 2016, the organization raised $130,000 to open seven chapters in the state.

Campbell said the organization would like to raise $150,000 this year to open 10 new chapters.

Restaurants participating this year include: Guru BBQ, Brick Street Books & Café, Wasabi Chi, Baru66, Tumea & Sons, Fleming’s Steakhouse, Iowa Taproom, Waterfront Seafood Market, Range Grill & Golf, The Machine Shed, Hy-Vee Market Grille, Centro, Sam & Gabe’s, Echo’s Cookie Shop and Main Street Café and Bakery.

Hy-Vee Market Grille Executive Chef Jonathon Murphy said it is important to get involved with the community. He said being a chef is like being a teacher.

“An opportunity to teach a new group of people a skill that they already don’t have is something that is exciting for us. For me and for a lot of chefs out there, that’s why we do it. We enjoy teaching,” Murphy said.

Abbie Cliegl has been a member of Best Buddies for the last seven years and said it has changed her lifestyle.

“It’s helped me to be myself. And Best Buddies is like a family to me,” Cliegl said.

The event is Thursday at the Ron Pearson Center in West Des Moines.

Throughout the night, people will vote anonymously with a coin, for what he or she thinks is the best food.

The popular vote will determine what chef wins the challenge.

Tickets are still available. The tasting starts at 5:30 p.m.