The Sunday, December 15th episode of Who Wants to be a Millionaire will put a Houston-based non-profit in the spotlight. Celebrity chef David Chang, the founder of the Momofuku restaurant empire, will be playing for the Southern Smoke Foundation during an appearance on the show.
Chang has long been a supporter of the Foundation, which provides cash assistance to restaurant workers in crisis. He and members of the Momofuku team attended the Southern Smoke Festival in 2017, which raised $500,000. Here's a clip of the chef talking about Southern Smoke with host Jimmy Kimmel:
Originally founded by chef Chris Shepherd to raise money for the National MS Society, Southern Smoke pivoted to supporting restaurant industry workers after Hurricane Harvey. To date, the fund has issued over $5 million in grants since 2015, including over $3.2 million to more than 1,700 people nationwide since the start of restaurant shutdowns related to COVID-19. With the support of the James Beard Foundation and a group of anonymous donors, Southern Smoke also established a $4 million relief fund dedicated to workers in Chicago.
“I’m so honored that Dave chose Southern Smoke as his charity,” said Shepherd said in a statement. “He’s been so supportive of this organization for so long, and the visibility from the show will do so much to shine a light on the needs of our industry.”
Exactly how much money Chang raised from his appearance, which will take place on both the November 15 and 29 episodes, remains to be seen, but it should be substantial. The show's format provides celebrity contestants with unlimited help from "the smartest person you know" through the $32,000 question, and they have three life lines that provide further assistance.
Speaking on the October 26 episode of his podcast, "The Dave Chang Show," the chef provided a hint about the results. "It's a lot harder than people realize. It's fucking hard," he said. "All I wanted to do was not be the worst and not be the best. Just to be forgettable and raise money. That's it."
So a $1 million donation probably isn't happening, but hopefully Chang hits at least the $125,000 level.