Philanthropist and founder of Chefs who Share – the ART of Giving, Barbara Lenhard has dedicated her life to promoting youth development in South Africa. She tells us about her passion for fundraising and what we can expect at Chefs who Share – the ART of Giving this year.
How did Chefs who Share – the ART of Giving come about?
It started with some comments by established chefs and an incredible photo-shoot four years ago – and as we all know sometimes things happen for a reason. The event and the entire concept is my biggest passion and for the past four years, it’s been a huge part of every aspect of my life. It brings me so much joy and it’s also given me many tears, long nights and short weekends – but it’s given me the greatest sense of pride and fulfilment.
Who is involved?
Wow, so many incredible people! International and local established chefs, acclaimed sommeliers and recognised artists work together to give life to this event. My partner and I work behind the scenes to make sure it all comes together perfectly. For the last three years, Chefs who Share achieved a stamp of approval from guests as well as the sponsors and partners who are the pillars behind this event. We all feel strongly about quality, and strive for perfection. There are fantastic personalities who genuinely care about South Africa working on this event.
You’re originally from Germany, what inspired the decision to move to South Africa?
Two holidays and the feeling that this could be my home. I loved this country from the first moment, and I still do after seven years of working harder then I ever have before, but also feeling more fulfilled then ever before. I feel this country has changed me and that I like the way I’ve changed.
Funds raised from ‘Chefs who Share – the ART of Giving’ go to South Africa’s youth. Why is it important to focus on developing young South Africans?
There is something special about working with children, and since moving to this country, they’ve impacted my life a great deal. I have been involved in various projects in the last four years – challenging projects – but the kids have always been a joy for me. As Winston Churchill said: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”. The children are the people who will run this country one day, and I hope I’ll still be around to see this.
What goes into organising each ‘Chefs who Share – the ART of Giving’ event?
It’s a bit like building a city. You’re never ready, you never know if all the decisions you made were the right ones and if they are still right four months later. We operate this event ourselves, from securing sponsorships to inviting the chefs and the sommeliers, securing incredible auction items, organising permits and venues, creating all artwork and a book, which we publish each year, developing and maintaining the website and sending out newsletters. Then there’s selling the tickets and looking after the guests, making sure that each one knows how much their attendance and support means to the entire team. That’s very important to me.
Who are some of the headliners?
So many people work together to ensure the event’s success. Rudi Liebenberg, Executive Chef from the Mount Nelson, Pearl Nel, a wonderful sommelier, and Chris Erasmus from Foliage in Franschhoek are always in. Artists such as Lionel Smit and his father Anton Smit, Richard Scott, Marieke Prinsloo and Jean Doyle generously contribute their beautiful artwork. My biggest belief is that we are better together.
What has Chefs who Share – the ART of Giving achieved thus far?
Chefs who Share has raised a little over R6 million, which has been donated to the chosen charity organisations. The money we raise for charities goes towards supporting education and youth development. In our Veggie Box Initiative, we raise money to feed children in need. Together with Veggie Box Ambassadors such as Jason Whitehead, Sue-Ann Allen and Tracey Younghusband, we’re hoping to promote nutritious eating in schools and communities.