By Josh Cohen Nov. 17, 2017
ORLANDO – For Kevin Fonzo, an award-winning Orlando-based chef, nothing is more gratifying than sharing his passion with others. In many ways, his remarkable success stems from his devotion to community outreach.
A philanthropist at heart with a unique talent in the kitchen, Fonzo savors every opportunity he gets to pass on his knowledge and unite people through culinary arts.
So as you would expect, Fonzo was elated when he found out he could team with the Orlando Magic on a special Thanksgiving community project.
With Fonzo’s tutelage, Magic CEO Alex Martins, Magic players Terrence Ross and Shelvin Mack and more than a dozen Magic season ticket holders prepared a healthy Thanksgiving meal that will be packaged and delivered to families staying at the Ronald McDonald House at Florida Hospital for Children.
“That’s the biggest purpose to life,” Fonzo said about brightening up the lives of others. “Life is ours to live and enjoy but we can’t keep taking, taking and taking. To help our community, we need to give back. A lot of people in this world don’t have what we have and aren’t as fortunate. We need to give back and support them.”
Aside from being the founding chef at the site of Friday night’s event, the Emeril Lagasse Foundation Kitchen House and Culinary Garden, Fonzo is also a chef instructor for the Edible Education Experience. Created to inspire people from all walks of life and teach them how to grow and prepare food properly, the Edible Education Experience offers an assortment of programs and services. Learn more by visiting here.
Friday’s cookout was the first of several Thanksgiving-themed events the Magic will be participating in over the next few days. Arron Afflalo will help distribute 450 Thanksgiving meals to underserved families in the Central Florida area on Sunday and for the 25th year the Magic will serve a breakfast on Thanksgiving morning to over 700 residents at the Coalition for the Homeless.
“We really focus on community as one of our four core values as an organization,” Martins said. “Our staff last year alone volunteered 7,000 hours of their time to organizations like this out in the community and to have our season ticket holders and our club members join us in these efforts, it’s a great opportunity for them to see how important our community outreach is.”
As Martins and Fonzo each pointed out, players, like Mack and Ross, partaking in these community events makes a big difference. Not only does it show how much they care about giving back, it’s a great opportunity for fans to meet their favorite sports stars and interact with them.
“They are rock stars in the community, people (fans) like that, they follow that,” Fonzo said. “To see them give back to the community is huge. They don’t have to be here but they know that their fans need help. They are here to support them.”
While neither Ross or Mack consider themselves expert chefs, both had a splendid time learning from Fonzo and hanging out with some of their biggest fans. Most of all, though, they were both delighted to help families going through tough situations.
“Tonight’s event is really good, it means a lot, just to show a way to give back,” Mack said. “I’m thankful for a lot of things that I have and it’s great that I can hang out with the season ticket holders and also to see what they are thankful for. This time of year it is very important (to donate time). I just try to tell them (children at hospital) to think positive, keep pushing.”
“It’s a good feeling to give back to the community especially around Thanksgiving,” Ross added. “Everybody needs a helping hand sometimes and we get so much support in the community that it’s only right that we give back.”