It started with a passion for cooking and turned into something much bigger, bringing the community together for a cause. Young Stamford chef Hunter Zampa has had much success in and out of the kitchen, including several appearances on the Food Network. But that wasn’t enough Hunter.
“After winning ‘Chopped’ and being on TV a lot, I just wanted a way to give back to my own community,” says Zampa.
Hunter and his family saw that opportunity to give back after learning about Eli Schwartz, a local student battling cancer. After meeting the Schwartz family, the Zampas decided to organize a Future Chef’s Cook-Off event to benefit Eli and pediatric oncology at Yale New Haven Hospital.
“This is kind of what we thought because I love cooking and I wanted to give the people around Stamford and Fairfield County the opportunity to cook with me for an event and to help support Eli,” says Zampa.
“It’s very moving that people want to do something for Eli and for pediatric cancer,” says Eli’s mother, Deborah Schwartz. “There’s a lot of hope that comes out of this and it just helps me to sleep at night.”
Leading up to the event ten young aspiring chefs, chosen by the Zampas, will be creating special dishes with local restaurants to be showcased at the Cook-Off. On Monday, Hunter and Eli joined one of the winners to bake at Stamford’s Café Oo La La.
“That was really exciting because he got back in the kitchen, we were making cookies, Evan was really supportive of that, and we all had a great time and it was really awesome to cook with them,” says Zampa.
“I think it’s great that they use something that we all like to go towards such a good cause and to help such a nice kid,” says Evan Cassidy, a Future Chef’s Cook-Off participant.
“This was such a nice connection and I think he sort of gravitated to Hunter sort of taking him under his wing a little bit and Eli looks up to big kids and I think it was just a really fun, exciting event,” says Schwartz.
The Future Chefs Cook-Off event will take place on June 8 at the Italian Center of Stamford from 12 to 3 pm. For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit http://www.chefhunterz.com