Buccini/Pollin, chef Akin announce celebrity chef dinners aimed at aiding ailing restaurant industry

Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki, center, talks with organizers of the event. Moonloop Photography photo.

The Buccini/Pollin Group, chef Tyler Akin, Mayor Mike Purzycki, and Delaware’s independent restaurants Monday announced  IRC x Wilmington, a series of dinners to benefit the neighborhood restaurants and bars across the country.

IRC x Wilmington will occur from December through March with celebrity guest chefs cooking in partnership with Wilmington restaurants including Bardea, La Fia, Le Cavalier, and Stitch House Brewery.

Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki, second from right,  talks with organizers of the event. Moonloop Photography photo.

The first event of the series will be kicking off with Ashley Christensen, owner of AC Restaurants, in collaboration with Culinary Director Jim Burke of Philadelphia’s  Wm. Mulherin’s & Sons and the forthcoming Method Co. boutique hotel project, hosted at Le Cavalier on Thursday, Dec. 9  at 6:30 p.m.


The dinner series is curated by Akin, a Wilmington native, chef-partner of Le Cavalier at the Hotel Du Pont,  and a member of the Independent Restaurant Coalition board of directors.

Chefs include: 

  • Jennifer Carroll formerly of Wilmington – Owner of Carroll Couture Cuisine, Chef-Owner of Spice Finch, and finalist of Bravo’s “Top Chef”
  • Ashley Christensen – Owner of AC Restaurants in Raleigh, NC.
  • Tom Colicchio – Owner of Crafted Hospitality, Host of Bravo’s “Top Chef”
  • Gregory Gourdet – Chef-owner of Kann, Author of Everyone’s Table Cookbook
  • Niki Russ Federman – fourth-generation co-owner of Russ & Daughters, a food store and online business in New York City.
  • Andrew Zimmern – Emmy-winning TV personality, chef, writer

Click here for a list of dinners and celebrity chefs. The cost of the dinners will range from $100 to $275 a person.

“Every person collaborating on this series — from the IRC and its visiting celebrity chefs to our friends up and down Market Street — were instrumental in outreach to legislators that led to the creation of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund,” said Akin. “Since March, the IRC grew from a dozen chefs to an organization of thousands across the country who have given our industry a platform for change.  This work led to the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which helped over 100,000 restaurants across the country keep their doors open.  It is critical that the IRC can continue this work representing neighborhood restaurants and ensure we refill the Revitalization Fund so the 65% of applicants still waiting for federal relief can get it.”

In March 2020, the restaurant and bar community formed the IRC to save the independent restaurants and bars and the 11 million jobs the industry maintains.

All featured chefs for IRC x Wilmington played a role in the mission of supporting independent restaurants nationwide. Now, the IRC is lobbying and advocating for the replenishment of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund to support the ongoing recovery of independent establishments nationwide.

The Buccini/Pollin Group noted in a release  that it has invested  $1.6 billion to revitalize Wilmington while also fortifying the city’s independent restaurant scene. The company worked with chefs to open restaurants downtown.

The effort has drawn regional and national attention that gained momentum with the election of Delaware’s Joe Biden to the presidency.

“My partners and I have long felt that Wilmington’s restaurants could be — and now are — on par with any great dining city. A new crop of additions including Le Cavalier, soon-to-open Bardea Steak and the forthcoming hotel and restaurant from Method Co. stand to further enrich our culinary scene,” said Rob Buccini, co-founder and co-president of BPG. “To have this esteemed group of national talent in our backyard to champion a cause we all believe in is incredibly rewarding and humbling and we look forward to showing them our city and Wilmington’s hospitality.”

IRC x Wilmington will offer a series of ticketed multi-course dinners around Wilmington co-hosted by BPG and IRC Board Member Tyler Akin, welcoming a slate of celebrity chefs to local independent restaurants.

All proceeds from each dinner will directly benefit the IRC. Tickets for the series are available via Eventbrite and can be purchased here.