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Seabird To Benefit Food Bank With James Beard Awards Watch Party

By Jessica Maurer, posted Jun 5, 2024
Dean Neff's restaurant Seabird will host a James Beard Awards community watch party that will benefit the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina. (File photo)
Chef Dean Neff of Seabird will travel to Chicago to attend the 33rd annual James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards ceremony on June 10. 

This year’s ceremony will be co-hosted by Top Chef alums Nyesha Arrington and Richard Blais. Neff is one of five chefs from across the country nominated for the foundation’s Outstanding Chef award. 

In celebration of the event, Seabird, Neff’s restaurant in downtown Wilmington, will host a community watch party where the event will be live-streamed from Eater.com. Tickets to the watch party are $250 each with all proceeds going directly to the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina. If the event sells out, the restaurant expects to make a $15,000 donation, according to Neff. 

Neff began working with the Food Bank when he arrived in Wilmington in 2015 and has taken part in the nonprofit’s annual Chef’s Feast fundraiser each year. He currently serves on its regional council.  

Neff said serving on the council has been a very meaningful and important experience, helping him become a better volunteer and advocate for the Food Bank. 

“The Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina (CENC) is important to me and our community because it works to bring food to all people in our community who are experiencing hunger,” Dean Neff said. “Because of the expansion and large capacity of the new Food Bank facility, we are able to manage large supplies of fresh food for distribution. Half of the food now distributed from this location is fresh, and that is the healthiest food for people to consume.” 

The food bank also plays a role in disaster relief support. That’s something Neff experienced first-hand in 2018 when the region was hit by Hurricane Florence.  

Beth Gaglione, director of regional development for the food bank’s Wilmington branch said she is grateful for the longtime support of Neff, his partner Lydia Clopton and their employees.  

“The Food Bank is always looking for ways we can collaborate with the restaurant community for the benefit of our community,” Beth Gaglione said. “When he was nominated, Dean shared with us that he feels that this nomination is as much about the community that supports him as it is about him as a chef.” 

For further details on the watch party and to purchase tickets, click here: https://seabirdnc.betterworld.org/events/june10 
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