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Chef Ruffy Sulaiman at work with students.

Image: Alice Levitt

Ed. note: The upcoming "The Art of Food" event on May 20 has been postponed until September; we will update this post with more information when it has been rescheduled. Other tenth anniversary celebration events will go on as scheduled.

Once a month, chef Ruffy Sulaiman goes to MacGregor Elementary School. He got his own elementary education long ago in Lagos, Nigeria, but he says that doesn't keep him from learning on his regular visits with students. "Because of what the kids are doing at the school, growing their own things, I've started looking into growing some plants in-house," he says. In his role as executive chef at the Hilton Americas, Sulaiman is currently working to start a rooftop garden that will supply the kitchen at 1600 Bar + Grill. It's all in a day's work as part of Recipe for Success' Chef Advisory Board.

During his monthly visits at MacGregor, Sulaiman prepares a simple, wholesome dish with students. The hope, he says, is that kids will be educated about nutrition and ask their parents for more vegetables and healthy foods in the home. Visits to Sulaiman's kitchen at the Hilton may also inspire the next generation of chefs who seek to create body-conscious dishes such as 1600's ancient grain tomato risotto or cauliflower fried rice.

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Healthy dishes like this may be served at The Banquet.

But next week, Sulaiman will be cooking for adults in honor of Recipe for Success' tenth anniversary. Founders Bob and Gracie Cavnar are chairing a three-pronged culinary celebration, Delicious Alchemy, to mark the occasion. The first event, on May 19, is "The Banquet," 10 courses, each prepared by one of the group's founding chefs and newer additions such as Sulaiman. At $2,500 a ticket, the feast is no casual undertaking. Sulaiman's course—shaved beets with garden greens, burrata and blackened shrimp in lemon vinaigrette—is composed entirely of local ingredients, he says, mostly sourced through Fresh Point, Sysco's farm-to-table division.

Among the nine other dishes, creativity will reign. Al Marcus of the now-closed Grateful Bread and the Kolache Shoppe's Randy Hines are collaborating on a "kolache de campagne" with mushroom sauce. Others will stick to the classics, such as the lemon curd tart with Italian meringue from Bistro Menil chef-owner Greg Martin. Other dishes will be created by big-name founding chefs including Bryan Caswell, Monica Pope, Robert Del Grande, Charles Clark and Lance Fegan. Courses will be accompanied by domestic and imported wines and a beer crafted for the event by Silver Eagle Distributors.

But the celebration doesn't end there. The following evening, May 20, "The Art of Food" will feature tastings from the chefs at Uchi, Izakaya and Coltivare, to name a few, alongside a show of napkin art. On May 22, a community supper along White Oak Bayou will be an invitation for locals to dine for free. Because the only thing better than raising funds to teach kids about healthy eating is eating for free.

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