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Redmond's John Howie kicks hunger, raises more than $100,000 for Food Lifeline
While all of the Pacific Northwest has been celebrating the Seattle Seahawks’ win over the Denver Broncos at Sunday’s Super Bowl this week, the players were not the only ones to bring home a “W” from the East Coast.
For the second year in a row, Redmond resident and chef John Howie and former Seahawk Craig Terrill were named winners of the NFL’s Kick Hunger Challenge after raising more than $83,000 for local hunger relief.
The challenge is an annual event held during the Super Bowl to raise money to help end hunger throughout the country. Teams made up of a chef and football player from each of the 32 NFL cities are pitted against each other leading up to the Super Bowl as they try to raise the most money for local hunger-relief organizations.
Howie — who owns several restaurants throughout the Puget Sound area including Sport Restaurant & Bar in Seattle, John Howie Steak in Bellevue and Adriatic Grill in Tacoma — and Terrill teamed up to raise funds for Food Lifeline in Seattle, an organization that provides food for 276 food banks and shelters throughout Western Washington. And as this year’s winner, the Howie-Terrill team earned an additional $10,000 prize to go toward their local cause.
“It just continues to show how big the hearts are of Seattle and the 12th Man…and I love that,” Howie said about how much money they raised, adding that they brought in $34,000 last year.
PARTY FOR A CAUSE
The challenge is part of the Taste of the NFL, an annual event held the night before the Super Bowl that raises money to help fight hunger. Howie compared the event to the Bite of Seattle in that attendees can sample food at booths from each chef-and-player team. In addition, there is a silent auction, a live auction, a raffle and a band.
“It’s a big party,” he said, adding that it’s not a cheap party as people had to shell out about $700 to attend this year’s event.
Thirty percent of the proceeds from the event benefits the host city’s hunger-fighting efforts, while the remaining 70 percent is split evenly among the remaining 31 cities to go toward their respective efforts.
The goal for this year’s Taste event was to raise $1 million. Howie said the numbers are not in yet, but if they reached that goal, that would add about another $22,000 to the $83,000 he and Terrill raised through the Kick Hunger Challenge.
In its 23 years, he said, the Taste has raised about $14 million.
While the Super Bowl was held in East Rutherford, N.J., this year’s Taste event was held in Brooklyn. Because of this, Howie said the food bank in Brooklyn was allowed to participate in the challenge. The food bank came in second place, bringing in about $53,500. Third place went to the team representing the Atlanta Falcons, which brought in $20,295.
“We blew them away. It was kind of like the game,” Howie said about the competition, referring to the Seahawks’ 43-8 victory.
ONE DOLLAR GOES A LONG WAY
Howie said their fundraising efforts included a dinner event at Sport, which included a raffle for a signed Russell Wilson jersey. Local rock icons Pearl Jam contributed by selling special 12th Man T-shirts at one of their concerts, bringing in $7,500 for the local effort. Amos Bros. also got involved by selling Kick Hunger T-shirts for people to purchase, contributing another $6,000 to the total.
In addition to the pre-Taste fundraising efforts and the money raised from ticket sales for the event, Howie said they earned an additional $20,000 for Food Lifeline from items that were auctioned off during the dinner. This brings the total amount for the organization to $113,000, not including the dollars brought in from the Taste ticket sales as they have not been calculated yet.
Food Lifeline President and CEO Linda Nageotte said her organization can stretch every dollar they receive far enough for four meals, so the amount Howie and Terrill’s efforts will provide upwards of 400,000 meals throughout Western Washington.
Howie has participated in the Taste for 10 years and has chosen Food Lifeline as his benefactor every year, which Nageotte appreciates.
“We lovingly refer to chef Howie as our 12th Man,” she said.
A SWEET VICTORY
Although Howie won the challenge last year, as well, he said this year’s victory was particularly sweet because the Seahawks also won the Big Game.
“It feels a lot better than Detroit did,” he said, referring to the Hawks’ previous, unsuccessful run for the championship title in 2006.
During that Super Bowl, Howie went head to head with the chef from Pittsburgh — representing the Steelers — in a competition for the best dip. He won that event with a Dungeness crab dip to his competition’s bean dip, but it wasn’t the same without a Seahawks’ victory.
Howie said he plans to participate in the Taste next year and he expects to have company once again.
“I fully expect the Seahawks to be there next year,” he said.