Cooking for a cause: ‘reviving’ the community one meal at a time

Cooking for a cause: ‘reviving’ the community one meal at a time

Stemming from his deep roots in Georgia all the way to Cleveland, William Burke firmly believes “if you can sustain a community, you can change the world.” Fortunately for Northeast Ohio, his vision is hard at work, and it all starts in the kitchen.

Over the last decade, Burke has worked his way up from line cook to executive chef with no formal culinary training – just a passion for food. An idea formed when he was asked to donate two seven-course dinners to benefit North Coast Community Homes, an organization that provides safe housing to individuals living with developmental disabilities and mental illness. That passion for food, paired with a taste for good conversation and a “bleeding heart,” would be the perfect ingredients for Revival Social Dinner: a group of professionally trained and self-taught chefs – mothers-in-law included – creating a meal and a setting for guests to eat, talk and support local nonprofits.

“It’s a community mindset,” Burke says. “I feel like the biggest problem right now is people are more worried about what’s happening three quarters of the way across the globe and ignoring the fact that there’s hungry people in our streets.”

Cooking for a cause: ‘reviving’ the community one meal at a time

Revival operates with a pool of nearly 40 local chefs, including executive chef Michael Nowak (The Black Pig), pastry chef Annabella Andricks (On The Rise, The Black Pig) and Jeremy Umansky (Larder), to name a few. These individuals prepare elaborate, six-course dinners with all proceeds going toward small, lesser-known nonprofit organizations chosen by Revival.

The goal is simple.

“Good food. Good conversation,” says Burke. “Take the money and put it towards something that’s better than all of us.”

Celebrating their 1-year anniversary next month, Burke and his team have previously hosted dinners benefiting Kids Book Bank, LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland, Cleveland Food Bank, Circle Health Services (formerly The Free Clinic) and The Refugee Response. Thanks to locally-sourced ingredients and 100 percent donated labor, Revival’s annual overhead costs are less than $1,000. A lean budget with hearty dividends.

“No one will make money off Revival,” says Burke. “Ever. Revival should be run through your heart, not your wallet.”

Burke would love to see Revival expand to cities all over the country to encourage individuals to take care of their own communities. Although he knows these changes won’t happen overnight, he hopes the ripple effects have the power to inspire generations to come.

“It’s something I want to teach my kids,” says Burke. “This is your superpower. All we have to do is care.”

Cooking for a cause: ‘reviving’ the community one meal at a time

Revival Social Dinner’s next six-course meal will take place April 30 at The Black Pig in Ohio City. Reservations are still available for $75 per guest, and all proceeds will benefit the Northeast Ohio chapter of Mended Little Hearts, a nonprofit that provides services and support to patients and families of children with congenital heart disease. For more information, visit   

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