For us to help, we need help.

From Hurricane Beryl to fires in Ruidoso, and every crisis in between, Southern Smoke Foundation is there for food and beverage workers. We keep families safe in their homes. We keep the lights on for thousands. We keep the industry moving.

Application Deadlines
Ruidoso fires: Wednesday, July 31, 2024
Hurricane Beryl: Friday, August 16, 2024

For us to grant emergency relief funds to our applicants, we need funding, too.

Help us help someone today.

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Austin, TX /

Tracy Malechek-Ezekiel was born and raised in Houston. After graduating from the University of Houston’s Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, she moved to Spain, where she fell in love with ingredient-driven cooking. Upon her return stateside, she packed up her car and drove to Chicago, spending a couple of years cooking at Lula Café before heading off to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY.

With a formal culinary education under her belt, Tracy went on to cook her way through award-winning restaurants across New York City, including Cru, Del Posto, and Blue Hill New York, before becoming a sous chef at Danny Meyer’s Gramercy Tavern under James Beard Outstanding Chef winner Mike Anthony. In 2015, she was tapped to be part of the opening team at Untitled at the Whitney. It was there that she met her husband and business partner, Arjav.

In July 2021, Tracy and Arjav opened Birdie’s, a small restaurant and wine bar in East Austin with a fine dining-caliber menu and counter-service format, marking the couple’s first solo venture and Tracy’s first crack at running her own kitchen. In homage to Tracy’s longstanding love of fresh ingredients, its menu consists of simple, seasonally inspired food that takes heavy cues from French and Italian cooking. Birdie’s represents their shared vision for a reimagined restaurant model that places sustainability and equity at its core. Its team-centric business model, which includes a 3.5% health and wellness fee on all checks and generous paid time off, has established it as a leader in Austin. In 2023, Birdie’s was named Food & Wine’s Restaurant of the Year; Tracy was later nominated by the James Beard Foundation Awards for “Best Chef: Texas” (2024). Before that, in 2022, Birdie’s was named one of Bon Appétit’s and Esquire’s “Best New Restaurants in America,” and it was on The New York Times’ “Restaurant List” 2021. Tracy is honored to be a member of World Central Kitchen’s Chef Corps and when outside the kitchen, enjoys spending time with Arjav, their baby boy, and their dogs, Wally and Lola.