APRON, Inc. Launches Chef in a Box Initiative

Support local restaurants through this nonprofit organization


By Elizabeth Scinta
Photos by Dan Dry


APRON, Inc. launched its Chef in a Box initiative on August 5 to raise funds for food and beverage industry professionals who need emergency financial assistance.

Founded in 2011, APRON, Inc. has been helping provide emergency financial assistance for independent food and beverage industry workers in Louisville through tasting events, fundraisers and now the Chef in a Box initiative. Over the past two months, APRON, Inc. has been able to help more people than ever before thanks to the generous donations they’ve received during this time.

“At the very beginning of the pandemic, we were sitting with our regular amount of money in the bank, but we didn’t know how much money we would now need. Between the community and corporate support, we raised a quarter of a million dollars. It came as a complete surprise for us. The money just appeared. The people and corporations in Louisville are so generous, and we’re a fairly small charity, so it was astounding,” said Gary Fox, president of APRON, Inc.

Those in need of assistance can apply online through their website, aproninc.org. For those interested in volunteering with APRON, Inc., you can contact them via phone, 502.403.5683, for the opportunities available.

Every week there will be a different chef and restaurant providing the items for the “box,” which is a reusable bag provided by APRON, Inc. The “box” will include a tasting selection of the restaurant’s specialty dishes, a favorite dish, a recipe card, a gift card or promotional swag.

“Caroline Knopp and Dan Dry came up with the idea and presented it to us and we thought it was a great idea. It’s a wonderful way to fundraise and both promote and help our local restaurants since some of the money goes back to them,” said Fox.

There will only be 50 boxes available for purchase each week for $50 a box; $25 will go back to the restaurant and $25 will go to APRON, Inc. to help provide relief for independent restaurant workers.

APRON, Inc. encourages Louisvillians to support their local restaurants while tasting some of the best food local chefs have to offer.

The boxes will be available for pickup from the restaurants every Wednesday of the week, and the items featured in the box will be released on their Facebook page, Chef in a Box Lou, the Friday before. The Facebook post will also provide information on how to order a box and instructions on how to pick it up.

The first box was created by Chef Josh Moore of Volare Italian Ristorante and features a caprese salad kit including fresh farm tomatoes from his garden and a $25 gift card.

Chef Josh Moore of Volare Italian Ristorante.

Chef in a Box with caprese salad kit and $25 gift card from Volare Italian Ristorante.

Next week’s box will be created by Chef John Varanese of Varanese and River House. As of right now, he plans to include a gift card and shrimp ceviche, a dish River House is known for. “We chose this because all of the ingredients are in season and will be coming from our garden. It’s something that’s light, fresh and inspiring,” Varanese said.

Chef John Varanese of Varanese and River House.

There are chefs booked through the first week in December and a full schedule of the restaurants and chefs participating on their website, aproninc.org/chef-in-a-box.

“It’s a really innovative thing that the organization came up with during really trying times. I applaud them for thinking outside the box for coming up with what they did. Hopefully it’s really successful and people continue to support it,” Varanese said.

The Chef in a Box initiative is in memory of Chef Dean Corbett and his dedication to the local restaurant community and being one of the “founding fathers of APRON, Inc.”

Chef in a Box List

Aug. 5 – Chef Josh Moore of Volare Italian Ristorante

Aug. 12 – Chef John Varanese of Varanese and River House

Aug. 19 – Chef Allen “Smooth” Hubbard of Martini Italian Bistro

Aug. 26 – Chef Anoosh of Noosh Nosh and Anoosh Bistro

Sept. 2 – Chef Ellen Gill McCarty of Gill on the Go

Sept. 9 – Jereme McFarland of Bourbons Bistro

Sept. 16 – Chef Andrew McCabe of Bar Vetti

Sept. 23 – Chef Edward Lee

Sept. 30 – Chef Chris Williams of Four Pegs Beer Lounge

Oct. 7 – Chef Christian Garay of Lou Lou Food & Drink

Oct. 14 – Susan Hershberg of Wiltshire Pantry

Oct. 21 – Crowler Catering

Oct. 28 – Chad Coulter of Biscuit Belly St. Matthews

Nov. 4 – Chef Allen Sims of Buck’s Restaurant and Bar

Nov. 11 – Chad Coulter of Louvino Middletown/Douglass Hills

Nov. 18 – Dallas McGarity of The Fat Lamb

Nov. 25 – Thanksgiving Eve, No Chef

Dec. 2 – Chef Geoffrey Heide of Fork & Barrel 

Dec. 9 – Chef Roland Wong of Tea Station Bistro