Hogs for the Cause at Lake Tahoe benefits families of pediatric brain cancer
CRYSTAL BAY, Nev. — About three years ago, Bill Wood, general manager of Crystal Bay Casino, was in New Orleans for Jazz Fest when he met Chris Montero, executive chef of Napoleon House in New Orleans.
Montero is part of a BBQ team named Silence of the Hams, which competes every year in a competition in New Orleans called Hogs for the Cause that raises money for families of pediatric brain cancer patients, caught Woods’ attention.
“We got into a conversation and started talking about the event and that’s when Bill asked us if we’d be interested in creating a similar event in Tahoe,” said Montero. “We thought about it for about a millisecond and said we’d love to.”
Montero discussed his conversation with one of the founders, now COO of the Hogs for the Cause nonprofit, Rene Louapre, to let him know about the Tahoe opportunity. After that conversation, the Silence of the Hams team came up to Tahoe in 2016 and helped Crystal Bay Casino create a similar version to the event in New Orleans.
“Our original event started out as a bunch of friends getting together to roast a pig over a barbecue, drink some beer and raise money for a boy who had been diagnosed with an incurable form of brain cancer,” said Louapre.
While Louapre attended the first two years in Tahoe it wasn’t until this year that the Crystal Bay event came under the Hogs for the Cause umbrella officially.
“Bill attended the New Orleans Hogs event for the first time this year and got excited about doing it bigger and better in Tahoe,” added Louapre. “Since we’re a national organization it made sense to grow and use as a way to meet new people and help more families.”
Last year, the Crystal Bay Casino event was able to assist two Northern Nevada families through the Renown pediatric oncology department. In both cases, the families needed to travel out of state for specialized treatment and the financial assistance provided by Hogs for the Cause helped to cover expenses.
While the Lake Tahoe event isn’t on par to raise the type of funds the New Orleans event does ($1.3 million in 2018), the cause is no less important.
For Montero, who has been part of the event for the past eight years, he sees it the same way.
“My favorite part is the gratification in doing something for a great cause.”
Food and tunes
Great cause aside, there also is great food and music. The event was kicked off with a performance by funk band Galactic on Thursday evening.
Friday evening plays host to the New Orleans celebrity chef group where they spin their creations paired with wine at the Hogs for the Cause Gala. Items such as oyster and pork belly Rockefeller, a Creole butcher’s trio of meat, and turtle soup, bring home the elevated fusion cuisine they are famous for. Following the dinner will be a special seated show from singer, songwriter Todd Snider.
Saturday will see a friendly competition between local chefs and the Silence of the Hams team that will take place outdoors from 1 – 8 p.m. Admission is free and all ages are welcome.
According to Louapre, the one thing people need to come check out at the Saturday barbecue is the whole hog roasting.
“It’s one of the coolest things to see but it’s such a difficult thing to do,” adds Louapre. “To wake up and smell that barbecue in the parking lot, you know you’re in for a good day.”
While Chef Montero and his team took first place for whole hog in the New Orleans event earlier this year, they’re going to put a spin on their presentation for Tahoe.
“We’re going to throw a little curve ball this time,” Montero said. “In New Orleans, Vietnamese is very common so we’re doing a Vietnamese po’ boy (a.k.a bahn mi).”
There will be live music outdoors during the day and the weekend event will conclude with a ticketed concert in the Crown Room Saturday evening. All proceeds from the food, drink and silent auctions will benefit the Hogs for the Cause Foundation.
Hogs for the Cause event will be held at Crystal Bay Casino (14 Nevada Route 28, Crystal Bay, Nevada) from Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 13-15. For more information about the event visit bit.ly/CBCHogs3.