Some might consider what they already do an act of benevolence to our great city.
But the Austin Food Blogger Alliance — those mobile bastions of good taste — also have a specific philanthropic element included in their mission statement. They are, in effect, spreading the good food news and helping others do the same.
Whether it's organized workdays at a local area food bank or a blog campaign to spread the needs of a struggling food-based nonprofit, the AFBA is proving how their combined efforts can benefit and transform the community around them.
Once a year, the Alliance also gets together to throw a themed bash to benefit one food-based Austin charity of their choice. This year, that event is Wednesday's Cupcakes & Cocktails event at the AT&T Executive Center to benefit Bake A Wish Austin.
This local nonprofit, headed by founder Karen Nichols, provides handmade birthday and other special occasion cakes to at-risk, abused and neglected children as well as the disabled and elderly who might not otherwise know the joy of a personalized birthday cake.
In less than three years' time, Bake A Wish has delivered almost 2,000 handmade cakes to underprivileged Austinites, thanks to the coordination efforts of Nichols and her growing number of at-home volunteers who make and decorate each cake to order based on the requests of social agencies around town.
Michelle Fandrich, the chair of the Philanthropy arm of AFBA, identified Bake A Wish as the perfect beneficiary for this year's AFBA fundraiser because of their fast growth and immediate impact upon the Austin community. Fandrich herself is also now a volunteer for Bake A Wish after learning of their noble and ever-expanding mission.
Nichols and several of the Bake A Wish volunteers will be in attendance at the event to share the nonprofit's story, show examples of their past homemade cake designs and speak with prospective volunteers throughout the night.
"Bake A Wish does require all volunteers to have basic decorating skills: know how to make buttercream from scratch, ice a cake smooth and pipe a simple border," Fandrich explains. "But don't worry if you're not good in the kitchen! There are other ways to be involved, like sponsoring a cake through the website, holding a supplies drive or attending the fundraiser on Wednesday."
Cupcakes & Cocktails will feature complementary takes on cocktails and spirits-inspired cupcakes from some of Austin's most creative pastry chefs. Included in the evening's mix are: Barrie Cullinan of Amity Bakery, Heidi Swiderski of Envy Pastries, Jessica Forkner of Objects of Confection, Andrea Leck of Sugar Mama's Bakeshop and Stephanie Dobos of Sugar N' Spice Patisserie. (Of note: Forkner and Dobos are Bake A Wish volunteers.)
As for what cup-tail recipes the chefs have concocted, Fandrich is keeping her lips sealed. "I can't wait to taste and vote on the creations made by the local bakeries who accepted our challenge. But I'm also excited to spend time with my fellow food bloggers. I promise, you can't find better people with whom to have a few cocktails and cupcakes."
I'll eat a drink-themed cupcake to that.
To learn more about Bake A Wish or how to become a volunteer, visit their website. Or come to the AT&T Executive Center Tejas Room on Wednesday, July 25 at 6 - 9 p.m. for Cupcakes & Cocktails. Tickets are $35.00 or $25.00 for AFBA members and Bake A Wish volunteers.