Live! Casino & Hotel executive chef Ed Evans, braced himself as he prepared for the dessert round of the Fourth of July-themed episode of “Chopped.” He had passed the first two rounds and if he could impress the judges one last time, he would take the $10,000 prize back home with him to Baltimore.
“The pressure of the clock and last round was something unreal that I haven’t felt my entire life in the kitchen,” said Evans.
The “Chopped” finalist told judges that if he won, he would put the money toward getting under-served communities in Baltimore involved in the culinary arts.
The West Baltimore native said he found his love for cooking at a young age and believes in the power of food. He said that it’s what kept him out of trouble as a kid.
Evans was “chopped” in the final round, but he will still be able to fulfill his dream of exposing Baltimore’s neglected communities to global cuisine. His employer, Live! Casino & Hotel plans to donate $10,000 to the Y of Central Maryland to support an “Around the World on a Plate” lunch for the community.
“I was really surprised that they would do it,” said Evans. “It’s not out of character, but I was just surprised.”
For Live! Casino & Hotel President Rob Norton, the decision was a no-brainer.
“We believe in Chef Ed’s commitment to helping kids, and we were going to support his vision regardless of the outcome of the show,” Norton said in an email. “It was a natural fit to support this event in partnership with the Y’s youth programs.
“His plan to take kids around the world on a plate is inspiring and will without a doubt make a big impact,” Norton continued.
Evans, a member of the Y’s Anne Arundel County Community Leadership Board, said this is a first step toward his larger goal of community outreach.
“It made me feel good that we could still move forward with the cause and initiative for the kids,” Evans said.
The casino’s donation also caught Y of Central Maryland’s board of directors’ chair Tom Brant by surprise. According to Brandt, the Y is always looking for unique ways to encourage healthy living and holistic eating in Baltimore’s food desert communities.
“I’ve been excited to learn about [Evans’] journey,” he said. “This is a serious contribution to the kids.”
Evans has already reached out to other Live! Casino & Hotel chefs from countries all over the world including Jamaica, China and Puerto Rico.
They are still figuring out what communities will be targeted for the event, but his hometown of West Baltimore is in strong consideration, Evans said.
“It’s a win-win situation for me and the kids that I’ll impact later on,” he said.