Roots for Reece picnic returns this June at Under the Oak Farm—with every ticket purchase donated to the NCHRC.
Five years ago, local chef Blake Gotliffe (of JoCo’s Under the Oak Catering) lost his best friend Reece Byrd to a heroin overdose. It wasn’t the only friend he lost to this disease, and Gotliffe personally struggled with opiate addiction for many years—though he’s been clean for 12 years now. After Byrd passed away, Gotliffe wanted to do something about it, and so he started the Roots for Reece Chef’s Picnic.
After a pandemic-related halt, Roots for Reece is back for its fourth installment this year on Sunday, June 12, feat 13 local chefs and purveyors, five beverage vendors, live music from Lake Chamerbain, arts and crafts, and a silent auction—all under Gotliffe’s beautiful oak tree in his own backyard. Local participating chefs include Josiah Halbohm of Young Hearts Distillery, Kyle Fletcher of Norse River Brewing Company, Caroline Morrison of The Fiction Kitchen and Kyle Teears of Saint Jacques.
“I feel it is my duty as a survivor to do whatever I can to help others and prevent further losses to this horrible disease,” says Gotliffe. The picnic stems from Gotliffe’s Roots for Reece fundraising organization. The chef maintains a small farm in his backyard, and so he decided to donate all of his root vegetables to local restaurants who were willing to make a dish with them.
That first year, Gotliffe also hosted a few dinners at his farm with local chefs like Eric Montagne of Locals Seafood and Sean Fowler of Mandolin to raise additional funds. “We raised almost $6K that year,” says Gotliffe. One-hundred percent of proceeds were donated to the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, a 501c3 nonprofit organization that focuses on the distribution of free Narcan (paid for by fundraisers and donations like Roots for Reece), as well as education on how to administer it.
In 2019, Gotliffe says they had so many local chefs interested that he decided to make Roots for Reece into a food festival-style picnic event. That year, 15 chefs, four breweries, a live band and guest speakers came together to form the first Roots for Reece Chef’s Picnic—and raised almost $10k.
“Roots for Reece is an important cause to me because opioid addiction is very common in the restaurant industry,” says Teears. “I have seen it claim the lives of friends, family members, and co-workers. It will be an honor to help chef Blake Gotliffe with this cause.” The cherry on top? Just one ticket can potentially save four lives. It’s a win-win. Purchase tickets here.