Chi Chi Miguel Weekend Raises $900,000

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Emeril Lagasse Foundation’s Chi Chi Miguel Weekend Raises $900,000 for Gulf Coast Charities

SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. – Presented by the Emeril Lagasse Foundation, the 11th annual Chi Chi Miguel Weekend sponsored by Isagenix took place March 30 – April 1 in Santa Rosa Beach and raised $900,000 for Gulf Coast charities.

Founded in 2006 by co-chairs Valerie and Mike “Chi Chi Miguel” Thompson as a small backyard gathering, the Throwdown Benefit Auction & BBQ has since expanded to a three-day event and one of the most successful fundraisers along the Emerald Coast.

The weekend began with a shot-gun style Golf Tournament and Wine Walkabout wine tasting benefiting Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center and a Sip ‘n Shop private shopping event benefitting Alaqua Animal Refuge.

On Saturday, the Throwdown Benefit Auction & BBQ took place at Churchill Oaks Clubhouse. The spirited outdoor barbeque competition featured 5 star-studded cooking teams of acclaimed winemakers, pitmasters and well-known chefs, including Dan Kosta, David Long, Rich Aurillia and renowned Chef Emeril Lagasse. Celebrity judges were Jimmy Bannos, Tim Creehan, Chan Cox, Jim Richard and Jimmy Bannos Jr.

Drawing guests from across the country, the Throwdown kicked-off with a “porktail” hour with exclusive wines poured by some of Napa Valley and Sonoma’s best winemakers. The festivities continued with silent and live auctions featuring private wine estate experiences, collectible wines, luxury travel expeditions, fine jewelry and custom artwork. Guests also enjoyed Nat Sherman cigar tastings and musical entertainment by Silverado Pickups.

“Val and Mike started something really special with this event, and we’re incredibly proud to be part of its growth and continued success,” says Emeril Lagasse, chairman and founder of the Emeril Lagasse Foundation. “Chi Chi Miguel Weekend has become one of our signature fundraising events and allowed us to increase our impact along the Gulf Coast. My wife Alden and I are endlessly grateful for the generosity of our guests, sponsors, chefs and winemakers, all of whom help make the charitable efforts supported by this event possible.”

All funds raised during the weekend benefited children’s charities along the Gulf Coast, with more than half the proceeds staying in Okaloosa and Walton Counties. Emeril Lagasse Foundation will distribute grants to weekend beneficiaries including Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center, Camille’s Art for Autism, Sinfonia Gulf Coast, Alaqua Animal Refuge, Food for Thought Outreach, the Ingram Lee Foundation, Pathways for Change and Children’s Volunteer Health Network.

“It’s been amazing to see this event grow from a backyard barbeque with friends, into such a world-class fundraising event,” says Mike Thompson, event co-chair and Emeril Lagasse Foundation board member. “We’re overjoyed to be able to give back to these inspirational charities that make such a positive impact in our community.”

About Emeril Lagasse Foundation:
Founded in 2002 by Chef Emeril Lagasse and his wife Alden, Emeril Lagasse Foundation is a 501c(3) public charity headquartered in New Orleans. The Foundation’s mission is to create opportunities to inspire, mentor and enable youth to reach their full potential through culinary, nutrition and arts education with a focus on life skills development. Since its inception, Emeril Lagasse Foundation has granted more than $7 million to several children’s charities to support culinary, nutrition and arts programs. To learn more about the Foundation and its beneficiaries, visit, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.