Elia Cooks for a Cause, Hillsborough Education Foundation Benefits

The second celebrity chef event for "Cooking for a Cause III” was held June 18 at the Copper Bell Cafe in Brandon. Hillsborough County School Superintendent MaryEllen Elia earmarked proceeds and gratuities for the Hillsborough Education Foundation.


Laura Grucza, with the Hillsborough Education Foundation, had lunch with Hillsborough County School Superintendent MaryElen Elia at the  in Brandon on June 18, for the second week of "Cooking for a Cause III."

Elia's said she chose the foundation to support the group's mission to "garner private support and public engagement for Hillsborough County Public Schools."

"The foundation is my opportunity to select a not-for-profit group that supports our students and our teachers at all of our schools," Elia said at the cafe June 18, at lunchtime.

"It's a great thing," Gucza said of the celebrity chef fundraiser. "The school district is a big supporter of the foundation and the partnership we have is really great."

Elia followed State Rep. Burgin, who cooked for a cause June 11, raising $1,389.71 for the Brandon Outreach Clinic, according to Copper Bell Cafe proprietor, and president-elect of the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce, Darren Dennington.

Dennington said of the celebrity chef effort, now in its third year, that he is proud to have donated back to the community some $26,000 as a result of the first two years of Cooking for a Cause. With Burgin's effort, that total is now at $27,389.71.

The third round "is going well," Dennington said, at the Coppe Bell fundraiser June 18. "Last week we had more group orders. This week, more single- and double-orders, more deliveries."

As for the overall monies raised, "it's getting to be a number I'm starting to get real proud of," Dennington said. "We're pushing the $30,000 number. For a small cafe, that's pretty significant."

Next up for are Jen Holloway and Tammy Bracewell (see their affiliations and chosen charities below). A complementary round of "Cooking for a Cause" will follow at the Copper Bell Cafe in Riverview, with celebrity chef Guy Boucher, head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The aim is for each celebrity chef to draw to the Copper Bell Cafe on their designated day a large — and hungry — crowd. The event is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Also, orders can be phoned in, with free delivery donated by Erik Butler of TakeOutButler.com.

The premise is simple: Dennington invites community local community leaders to serve as celebrity chefs on their designated day for the fundraiser. Dennington and his staff, sometimes with the aid of the celebrity chef, prepare the ingredients for the meals the night before.

All proceeds and gratuities from the day are donated to the charity designated by the celebrity chef.


The Cooking for a Cause III Lineup For Brandon:

  • June 25 — Jen Holloway, marketing director for Bright House Networks, the sponsor for this year's event. Her chosen charity: HARC, "one of the oldest and most-respected agencies serving people with disabilities in the Tampa Bay region."


The Cooking for a Cause III Lineup for Riverview:

  • August 25 — Guy Boucher, head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning. His chosen charity: Susan G. Komen 3-Day Breast Cancer Walk.
  • Additional celebrity chefs for the Riverview location of the Copper Bell Cafe will be named and scheduled for October, Dennington said.



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