The Gulf of Mexico BP oil spill may be out of the headlines, but for residents of the Gulf Coast, the devastation wrought by the disaster is still with them. For many fishermen, their way of life is over.

Guillaume Bienaime, executive chef of Marché in Menlo Park, has spearheaded a fundraising dinner Oct. 24 aimed at supporting the restoration of the Gulf of Mexico and wetlands along the southern U.S. coast. He has teamed up with several top restaurants and winemakers for a one-of-a-kind event at Menlo Park’s Madera restaurant. Proceeds will go to the Save Our Gulf fund of the Waterkeeper Alliance to support the seven Waterkeeper organizations of the Gulf Coast.

Waterkeeper Alliance is a nonprofit company started by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., aimed at providing a way for communities to stand up for their right to clean water and for the wise and equitable use of water resources, both locally and globally. The vision of the Waterkeeper movement is for fishable, swimmable and drinkable waterways worldwide. Their belief is that the best way to achieve this vision is through the Waterkeeper method of grassroots advocacy. Waterkeeper Alliance aspires to protect every major watershed around the world.

For Bienaime, the BP oil spill and its impact on the Gulf environment and fishermen resonated with him on a personal level and he was moved to try to do something to help. “The oil spill forever changed this unique ecosystem and way of life for so many who live in the bayous and surrounding areas,” he says. “For many families who rely on the waters of the Gulf as their means of survival, it’s crucial that everything that can be done to clean up the area is done.”

Bienaime learned about conditions in the gulf through conversations Pietro Parravano, a Half Moon Bay fisherman and president of the Institute for Fisheries Resources. Having recently visited Louisiana and its bayous and wetlands, Bienaime felt a deep concern for the future of the gulf and the people who live and work along its shores. He reached out to Madera’s executive chef, Peter Rudolph, to enlist his support. He signed on, as have many other top names in the Bay Area’s food and wine scene, including chefs and artisans from

Each participating restaurant, winery and vendor will have a booth set up so guests can mill about and eat and drink to their heart’s content. In addition to the opportunity to enjoy some great food and wine, Bienaime hopes that, through their support for the victims of the BP spill, attendees will make the connection of the fragility of our own marine ecosystems in San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The gala will also include a silent auction featuring a guitar signed by Melissa Etheridge, a 2006–2009 vertical of Varner pinot noir and a three-hour boat tour on the Baykeeper patrol boat. It’s rare to see so much culinary talent under one roof; that it benefits such a good cause makes it even more attractive. Hats off to Bienaime for stepping out from the kitchen to put this event together. Chefs talk a lot about the quality of ingredients and supporting local producers. It’s rare to see a chef step up to do something to defend them.

The event runs 3–6pm; the cost is $150. To purchase tickets go to and click on the “buy tickets” link.