Dining Out in Dallas Cooking Up a Cure for NF

Dallas — Fine dining met fierce competition as the 24th annual Dining Out in Dallas Battle of the Chefs was presented at the Frontiers of Flight Museum on Wednesday, April 17.

Chefs from 15 of the finest restaurants in Dallas put their best dishes and drinks to the test. Attendees sampled a number of delicacies, from seared sea scallops and Ahi tuna to braised short ribs and gourmet sliders, and voted for their favorite dish. There were also opportunities to participate in a live and silent auctions.

“Our founding chef, David Holben with Del Frisco’s, got all of his chef buddies together and said that we could put a really great event together to raise money for this important cause,” Kara Kirkby, events director for the Texas NF Foundation, said. “It’s kind of taken off from there.”

The annual event benefits the Texas Neurofibromatosis (NF) Foundation, a non-profit working to find a cure for this devastating disease.

“[Neurofibromatosis] is a disorder that causes uncontrolled growth of tumors on nerve endings that can manifest at any time throughout an individual’s life, both internally and externally,” Kirkby said. “A lot of our patients have other complications such as learning disabilities, epilepsy and so on. You might see people who have no visible symptoms, and you might see others who have pretty severe deformities.”

NF can affect the development of the brain, cardiovascular system, bones and skin, and can result in blindness, deafness, brain tumors and even death. Currently, there is no cure, no long-term treatment or and prevention for NF, so the majority of funds raised by the event supports research for a cure and treatment options for NF patients.

“This is definitely our biggest annual fundraiser, and it keeps getting bigger every year,” Kirkby said. “We sold out of sponsorships and tickets this year, and we are just overwhelmed with the amount of support for the foundation on Dining Out in Dallas night every year.”

Every year, the event features a junior chef who gets to work alongside the chefs of the host restaurant. This year, 11-year-old Conley Keith was chosen to cook alongside the chefs of Nick and Sam’s Steakhouse in Dallas. Chef John Kleifgen, executive chef of Nick and Sam’s, said it was an honor to not only be the host restaurant this year, but to be able to work with his junior chef.

“We always like getting out and trying to do what we can for Dallas and for those in need, especially the Texas Neurofibromatosis Foundation,” Kleifgen said. “It’s been a lot of fun. It’s obviously a big honor to be asked to this event, so we’re humbled by that. Getting to know [junior] Chef Conley and the Keith family has really been the highlight of the event for us this year.”

Chef David Holben, concept chef for Del Frisco’s Steakhouse and the founder of the event, said he is pleased to see his event grow year after year and is eagerly awaiting the 25th annual event.

“I’m amazed, but not really, because there’s so many great volunteers who have put so much hard work into it, and they put their heart into it,” Holben said. “It’s almost got to get bigger and better every year. We get out the word slowly and slowly, more and more, so as people know more they come and they know what NF is about, and they want to give more and donate more money. It’s raising awareness while having some delicious food.”

Written by Ariel Graham