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Baltimore chefs are making Thanksgiving dinner brighter for many this year.
Baltimore chefs are making Thanksgiving dinner brighter for many this year. (Spike Mafford / Getty Images)

Roasted turkey, stuffing, green beans, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, pumpkin pie. Chef Rey Eugenio is sticking to the classics as he prepares an early Thanksgiving meal for about 75 residents of Forrest Park in Northwest Baltimore.

Eugenio, previously of Ouzo Bay and Roy's in Harbor East, is one of several Baltimore chefs and restaurateurs giving back to both local and international communities with charity events around Thanksgiving.

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The events start tonight with Eugenio's community Thanksgiving dinner. Eugenio and his wife Julie, along with Liberty Elementary School principal Joseph Manko, organized the 6 p.m. meal, which will be held at the school's Rec and Tech Center. Eugenio is single-handedly preparing the food for the guests using food donated from local grocery stores, and a handful of volunteers will help serve.

It's Eugenio's first culinary event in Baltimore's food scene since he left his post at Ouzo Bay. He has been traveling and consulting for restaurateur friends across the country, but once his non-compete agreement expires, he plans to step back into the Baltimore dining ring.

"That's where I want to set my roots as far as what I do," he said.

Meanwhile, other restaurants are also using Thanksgiving as a chance to give back to Baltimore. Sotto Sopra in Mount Vernon is holding its gift card giveaway for charity. The restaurant will give away two $500 gift cards — one to each charity with the most votes on its Facebook page — for the charities to use to their benefit.

More than 500 people had commented on the post this morning with suggestions including Back on My Feet Baltimore, the Refugee Youth Project, Kelly's Dream and Reading Partners. Sotto Sopra is awarding the cards to human-based organizations this year after animal-related causes won the last couple years.

The two charities with the most mentions will win, and the contest closes at midnight on Thanksgiving.

The giving continues beyond Turkey Day. On Giving Tuesday, Dec. 1, three Baltimore chefs are collaborating on a Thai dinner at Wit & Wisdom to benefit Urban Light, a nonprofit that works to empower homeless boys in Thailand.

The organization, which focuses on boys in Chiang Mai who are vulnerable to exploitation and human trafficking, was founded by Baltimore resident Alezandra Russell. She approached Wit & Wisdom executive chef Zack Mills with the idea for the dinner, and he's teaming up on the four-course meal with Cyrus Keefer of 13.5 Wine Bar and Tim Dyson of Dooby's.

All the proceeds from the dinner, which includes wine pairings and costs $100 per person, will go to Urban Light. The event starts at 7 p.m.

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