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“Originally, Shepherd started the nonprofit foundation to raise funds for multiple sclerosis research after a friend was diagnosed with the disease. But last year, Shepherd knew that servers, cooks, and bussers would be uniquely vulnerable in the aftermath of Harvey, and decided to donate Southern Smoke’s proceeds directly to service industry professionals impacted by the storm. The organization set an aggressive fundraising goal of $500,000, and on the day of the event in October, announced that Southern Smoke had exceeded its goal by $1,000.”
Cash Grants Provide a 
Lifeline for Houston’s 
Restaurant Community
“Not only has Shepherd managed to rally this enviable roster of chefs and entertainment, but he’s also enlisted the help of his entire staff, and seeing the joy on everyone’s face is one of the best parts for Shepherd. ‘We’re a restaurant with a greater purpose,’ he says.”
Why Chris Shepherd's Southern Smoke Fundraiser Is So Awesome
“Shepherd and HOUBBQ are turning brisket into a cure.”
Southerners of the Year - Chris Shepherd and the HOUBBQ Collective
“It's all a bit overwhelming and incredibly touching. Honestly, I'm at a loss for words. It's so wonderful of him. Not everybody has a friend who could pull off something this amazing. Chris doesn't think small.”
Antonio Gianola
Southern Smoke Honoree and Inspiration
“No other Houston food event delivers quite the same mix of culinary star power, entertainment, and fundraising.”
Southern Smoke delivers culinary star power and raises a half-million dollars
“We had a foot of water in our home and we ended up having to get rescued. It was awful and with a 2-year-old baby and my 11-year-old daughter, it was incredibly hard. The whole bottom floor of our home was ruined and we didn’t have flood insurance. We were able to get some help from FEMA but it definitely wasn’t enough to cover what we had. You just don’t realize how much money this is going to be—replacing furniture, walls, cabinets. Southern Smoke was a huge blessing for us. We’re incredibly thankful for this extra support.”
Hayley Coursen
Manager at a Restaurant In Seabrook
“For the third year in a row, Underbelly's Chris Shepherd is organizing Southern Smoke, the now-annual Houston barbecue that's making a name for itself as one of the more entertaining charity events in the food & beverage industry.”
How Eating Aaron Franklin's Brisket Can Help Houston Recover
“We were like family at Spaghetti Warehouse, from the customers to my co-workers. I was a waiter there and I was being trained to become a manager…The storm seemed like it came out of nowhere and it really destroyed that restaurant. There was no way it was opening any time soon…I got kicked out of my apartment about two weeks after the storm because I couldn’t pay the rent. I heard about Southern Smoke from my mom and she said they were helping out people in the food and beverage industry…To get this money, it’s just incredible. It gives me my independence back, helps me provide for my three girls a little better. It gets me back on my feet and that means a lot…I love the restaurant business, it’s what I’ve done most of my adult life and I want to get back into it. You get the chance to make other people’s day better. That’s a great feeling.”
Omari West-Griffin
Former Waiter at Spaghetti Warehouse Downtown
“The fundraiser organized by Underbelly 
chef-owner Chris Shepherd and friends raised $500,000 for a cause that hits home. This year instead of donating the money to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society as it has for the previous two events, Southern Smoke partnered with Legacy Community Health to provide emergency financial assistance for employees of the culinary and beverage community affected by the hurricane. 
When combined with the $464,000 raised from the 2015 and 2016 barbecue blowouts, Southern Smoke will have raised nearly $1 million.”
Southern Smoke 2017 Takes in $500,000
"Without help, there was just no way we were going to come back. It’s been incredible to see this kind of support [from Southern Smoke]. God bless everyone who has encouraged us and believed in us. It means so much.”
Vahid Navissi
Owner, Café Benedicte
“My children and I lost almost everything in the storm. It was beyond devastating. Our house is only a shell of what it once was. We were so grateful to hear what Southern Smoke was doing for the people of Houston. We are blown away be the generosity of this organization. We can't wait to get floors and furniture for our home and replace some of my childrens’ things.”
Kyrie Bross
Bartender at Scout Bar In 
Bay Area
“We pretty much lost everything on our 500 acres with the hurricane. We estimate our total loss at about $400,000. It really devastated us. But the money that we received from Southern Smoke allows us to buy more seeds, replant and restart. We’re very grateful.”
Garrett Gundermann
Owner, Gundermann Acres Farm In Wharton
At the National MS Society, we will do whatever it takes to change the world for people affected by MS. Southern Smoke has come alongside us by being one of the largest MS fundraisers in the country, and together with their foundation we are partnering to accelerate life-changing breakthroughs for people living with MS. From cutting-edge research breakthroughs like the first-ever treatment for progressive MS to life-changing support like wellness programs and MS Navigators who guide and support more than 180,000 people every year – the funds raised through Southern Smoke are truly being put to good use for people affected by MS. Every breakthrough matters for the MS community, and the Southern Smoke Foundation is creating connections that are getting us closer to our ultimate goal – a world free of MS.
Linda Bates, National Multiple Sclerosis Society
President, South Central
“We sincerely appreciate this substantial donation to organization’s ongoing program to provide work-gloves to our fishermen. The men and women who provide fish from the Gulf of Mexico are an integral part of the Gulf’s hospitality industry. It is comforting to know that Southern Smoke recognizes we are one family providing the best seafood in the world to our customers.”
Jim Gossen
Gulf Seafood Foundation