Celebrity chef David Chang, who happened to be the founder of the wildly successful Momofuku restaurant brand, is a force to be reckoned with in the culinary world.
Winning a million dollars may be certainly exciting for Chang, but even more thrilling was the prospect of just how all that money would be spent.
This is because, no matter the amount he made on the show, Chang had decided that his winnings will be given to a charity dear to his heart, which is the Southern Smoke Foundation. This Foundation is an emergency relief fund for folks in the food and beverage industry.
From the Southern Smoke Foundation website, it was revealed that it has “distributed more than $5.7 million, both directly to people in need via the Emergency Relief Fund and to organizations that represent the needs of people in our industry.”
While this foundation was established back in 2017, the devastating impact of COVID-19 on bars, restaurants, and catering companies in 2020 has made the need for financial crisis intervention all the more urgent.
In an interview with CNN, Chris Shepherd (founder of Southern Smoke Charity) said:
“I’m so honored that Dave chose Southern Smoke as his charity. Now, more than ever, with indoor dining shut down in many parts of the country and temperatures dropping to prohibit outdoor dining, food and beverage industry employees are desperate.”Chris Shepherd
When Chang got to the $500,000 mark, Jimmy Kimmel (who was the host of the program) cautioned him that no celebrity contestant had ever won “the big prize.” This made Chang consider walking away; however, he trusted his luck, and decided to give it his all. During the show he said:
“Having a million dollars right now, in this moment, is a game-changer for many, many families. And yes, half a million is as well… and I want to say ‘No, just take the money!’—but I’m not.” – Celebrity chef David Chang
With the help of lifeline buddy, ESPN correspondent Mina Kimes—who coached him that Benjamin Harrison was likely the first U.S. President to have electricity in the White House—Chang gave his final answer.
While the camera-friendly big check is likely just a stage prop, the money it represents will have a huge impact. Southern Smoke estimates Chang’s million-dollar “lucky peach” will benefit approximately 500 food and beverage workers in need.