Region’s top chefs will throw down their best for charity

The kick-off for the second annual Manayunk Eco-Arts Festival promises to be a touching event that will make you hungry. On Wednesday, chefs from Manayunk and throughout the city will be throwing down their best at a fundraiser which benefits children in Thailand.

“We’re really excited about this event,” said Jane Lipton, executive director of the Manayunk Development Corporation. “We’re all looking forward to the Throwdown.”

Eat Along The Street (EATS) is the brainchild of Chabaa Thai Executive Chef Moon Krapugthong. According to Lipton, the MDC is only promoting the citywide event; Moon is it’s driving force. EATS was formed by Moon and kitchen consultant Judy Spielman after a visit to Wat Bodd Voraditt, an orphanage house in Thailand.

The event aims to raise $35,000 to build a modern kitchen at the orphanage to prepare and store food safely; to develop a curriculum to train the children for culinary and hospitality careers; to create jobs for adults overseeing meal preparation and distribution, and to develop self-sustainable programs while helping to instill a sense of community.

Moon is no stranger to the spotlight; she hosted the first annual Eco-Arts Festival kick-off at the now defunct Mango Moon. That event featured a surprise appearance of Bobby McFerrin. The restaurant space is now home to Gemelli On Main.

This event is to be a celebration of street food traditions which brings together the region’s top notch food trucks and restaurants in a lively festival setting. EATS will feature a friendly culinary competition where some of the region’s chefs will prepare dishes with local ingredients reflecting authentic street food cuisine from around the world. For added thrill, a distinct panel of judges and VIP tasters from across Philadelphia will “throw down” their votes for the best bites of the night.

Local boys in the culinary fight include Derek Davis, of the eponymous Derek’s; Clark Gilber of Gemelli; Tom Konidaris of Zesty’s; Brendan McGrew of Bourbon Blue; and John O’Brien of Winnie’s Le Bus. Judges include the distinguished Jose Garces, Drew Lazor and Rick Nichols.

“It’s cool that Manayunk is hosting a citywide event,” said Lipton. “The first of many for years to come.”

In addition to the competition and tastings, the event will also feature a Chinese-style auction featuring restaurant gift certificates, Phillies and Flyers tickets, cooking classes, theater tickets and many other exciting prizes.

Moon Krapugthong was not immediately available for comment.

The event kicks off at 6 p.m. at 115 Levering St. in Manayunk. For more information about EATS, log on to www.eatsphilly.com. To purchase tickets, visit http://manayunk.ticketleap.com/eatsmanayunk.

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