• Celebrity chefs cook it up Le Bonheur style


    Le Bon Appetit brings in 40 of the nation's most celebrated chefs, including Memphis' own Chef Kelly English. It's all to raise money for Le Bonheur Children's Hospital.

    But before these chefs get hospitable, they got competitive.

    Think of it as The Food Network's Chopped but with Le Bonheur flair.

    "They took it serious. They collaborated for a couple minutes and started preparing dishes right away," said The Food Network's Claire Robinson, who's had her experience cooking under pressure on Chopped.

    A secret ingredient and 37 minutes to cook: Eight of 40 Le Bon Appetit chefs cooked up breakfast at Le Bonheur's FedExFamilyHouse for ten of the hospital's patients. It made the experience all the more unique for the chefs.

    "Chefs love to go back to their childhood," said English, known for Restaurant Iris and The Second Line, "And this is a chance for them to make chocolate pancakes and not as fancy stuff and stuff that really takes us back to our mom's table."

    Chef Chris Shepherd from Underbelly in Houston, Texas, added, "It was good to see the faces and the smiles and then just see their reaction when they sit and watch because they're really into it and seeing somebody cooking."

    From Apple Jacks in smoothies to Reese's cups in pancakes, the chefs didn't hold back.

    "The dishes were inventive, really inventive," said Robinson, "I loved, I did love John Currence's Elvis pancakes were delicious. It was like Johnny Cakes and peanut butter and banana and a crunchy syrup. It was amazing."

    It was the Elvis inspired pancakes that ended up the favorite with the kids.

    "It was all Elvis: Peanut butter and marshmallows and bananas in a pancake and when you're cooking for kids you can't lose with that combination. Little chocolate and it's a no-brainer," said Chef John Currence from City Grocery in Oxford, Miss.

    Currence's secret to the winning dish?

    "I cheated a lot," the chef admitted, "I brought an entire car load of ingredients so I could pander to the judges."

    Cheating aside, the chefs were happy to come together to help Le Bonheur's patients and raise money for the hospital. It's a cause near and dear to English.

    "When I was a kid I needed a place like Le Bonheur. I fell out of my grandmother's window and I broke a lot of bones all at one time," recalled Kelly, "When I go back I think about my experience in the hospital how much I would have loved to have been in a place like this that really takes care of not just what ails you but … let's you be a kid."

    Robinson said money from this year's Le Bon Appetit is helping purchase a customized ambulance for the children's hospital. Many of Le Bonheur's patients transported are less than five years old so the ambulance needs to be specialized.

    "Memphis is my home and when I come home I'm so proud of the things that are coming out of Memphis, Le Bonheur being one of them," said Robinson, "It's an amazing hospital and they do incredible things for children."

    Le Bon Appetit for 2014 sold out. The rest of us will be waiting – mouths watering – two years for the next course.

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