Image: Chris Nirschel
Giacinta Pace
Celebrity chef Chris Nirschel smiles big for the camera.
NBC News
updated 1/5/2012 12:03:47 PM ET 2012-01-05T17:03:47

Cause Celeb highlights a celebrity’s work on behalf of a specific cause. This week, Chris Nirschel shares with us, via email interview, his work with The Food Bank for New York City.
After 28 years, The Food Bank for New York has become the city’s major hunger relief organization and one of the largest food banks in the country. Their mission is to end food poverty by obtaining and distributing food, income support and teaching nutritional information.

Chris Nirschel attended the French Culinary Institute and starred on "The Next Food Network Star." He currently serves as the executive chef at Caffe Napoli in New York's Little Italy. He is notoriously known as a culinary bad boy.

Introduction by Meg Zrini
Interview via email by Giacinta Pace

Q: Which charity do you support?

Nirschel: I am in the field of food. Unfortunately, the government drastically cut funding for the food bank and in particular the NYC food bank.  I have done events with them in the Hamptons and New York City and I strongly believe in helping those less fortunate.  I also support other charities because I have been blessed to find my passion and love in food. If I can donate my services to philanthropic attendees at auctions or events it is more than my pleasure to do so.

Q: What is your role with the charity? 

Nirschel: I have been in touch with the NYC food bank and they support one very large homeless shelter housing 500 people. I always have the philosophy go big or go home so I started it off right on Oct. 15 by hosting a celebrity cooking class with "Mob Wife" and friend Renee Graziano. It was followed by a celeb studded red carpet and cocktail party where we party for a cause. The proceeds go to the NYC food bank. 

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Q: You are known as a 'culinary bad boy', what inspires you to do good?

Nirschel: I’m bad in the sense that I dance around the kitchen, sing, get a bit wild and maybe I’m a bit controversial.  That is me and I will always be true to that.  I am a rebel with a cause.  I grew up with a great supportive family that always believed in helping out with the less fortunate. My mom actually runs a nonprofit that educates Afghan women and that has been a huge inspiration to me.  I felt like becoming a chef and through all the trials and tribulations of my unique life I am now a grounded, happy, blessed, young man and the least I can do is share this great energy and food during the holiday season.  I literally couldn’t sleep I was so excited when this idea came to mind and I cannot wait to make these dreams a reality.

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Q: Is there a moving moment you have had while working with this charity?

Nirschel: There is no one moment but the goal is always the same: to help others to the fullest.  I don't have money and lots of people are in my financial situation as well with their student loans, debt or whatever it is but that is no excuse.  Step up to the plate and bring what you do have because it can save a life and make a difference.

Q: What are your future projects, both in the charity world and in your own career?

Nirschel: I have my own company, It is about food, fashion and entertainment.  I want to host a TV show bringing all three together. I consult for three different restaurants and I have a clothing brand. Our kids are the future therefore, I will be opening a kids cooking school.

I will do that eventually but for now, I will be going to speak at schools to teach our young cooking in a fun way. This way they learn to love nutrition and to cook without actually realizing that they are making healthy choices like whole wheat pizza.

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