A few weeks from now, a crew of culinary experts will gather in Santa Rosa.
Despite the high quotient of cooking expertise, these individuals will not be cooking delicacies for an upscale food festival. Instead, they will be donning jerseys and bike shorts and riding hundreds of miles to provide food for youngsters in an event called “Chefs Cycle for No Kid Hungry.”
Three years ago, 124 chefs banded together for a 300-mile ride; the cyclists’ efforts raised $1 million for No Kid Hungry, an organization working to end child hunger in America. Since then, the size and success of the event has continued to grow. This year, the organizer’s goal is for 275 chefs to raise $2 million and provide 20 million meals for children.
Long Beach will be represented in the ride by local resident and chef Pete Lehmar of Gladstone's Long Beach. And residents can help by adding pledges to Lehmar's effort.
A graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, Lehmar has been running kitchens since he was 20 years old. A veteran of McCormick and Schmick Seafood restaurants in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, Lehmar was executive chef when Gladstone's on Pine opened 14 years ago.
In addition to his love for cooking, Lehmar said he has enjoyed sports for decades. He is now an avid cyclist who plays golf with his sons as often as possible, but during the 1980s and ’90s, he spent his time competing in triathlons. Twelve years ago, Lehmar switched his focus to road cycling.
Normally, Lehmar rides his Giant TCR Advanced bicycle between 150 and 250 miles per week, regularly pedaling to the Huntington Beach Pier and back. However, he said he will need to tackle longer and harder routes as he prepares for the 300-mile, three-day Santa Rosa bike ride. Lehmar is no stranger to distance riding, having twice completed the 500-mile trek to San Francisco.
When Lehmar gets to Santa Rosa, he will be cycling beside some big names in the food world. Registrants include Andrew Knowlton, longtime Bon Appetit editor and the host of Netflix’s “Final Table;” Brooke Williamson, Bravo’s Top Chef Season 14 winner; Gizelle Wellman and Chad White, Top Chef contestants; Elizabeth Falkner, food show judge and competitor; and Ted Cizma, executive chef of SpaceX.
Lehmar, who has often cooked for charity events at Gladstone's and at his sons’ schools, said he is excited to combine his love for food, cycling and outreach in the Chefs Cycle ride.
“As a chef, we are never hungry,” Lehmar said. “It’s kinda hard to imagine that there are 1,000’s of kids across our country who dread summer break because they do not know where they are going to get lunch. No Kid Hungry is helping to create places before and after school, the weekends and during summer utilizing schools, churches, and community buildings where kids can get a meal and thrive.”
Chefs Cycle for No Kid Hungry will take place in Santa Rosa on May 14-16. To support Chef Pete and his ride to end child hunger, go to http://bit.ly/ChefPete.