September 6, 2005 2:51 AM | By Adam Roberts | 25 Comments

Announcing Gourmet Survivor II: A Benefit for Katrina Victims


The devastation in New Orleans has left many of us, foodbloggers especially, feeling a bit frivolous in the face of catastrophe. We can debate the merits of green risotto and the value of Amazon knife deals, but in the background 10,000 people have died and thousands more need assistance. Surely there's something we can do.

Last year I ran a Gourmet Survivor which was a big hit with my readers (that's you). Much like the TV show, contestants competed each round to receive immunity and then proceeded to vote each other off. The winner--Miss Andrea--endured almost two months worth of challenges, intrigue and dirty politics. Her prize is still in the mail (wink wink, heh heh). (Wait, I did send her a prize, didn't I?)

This year we're going to run things much differently. Our focus is fundraising and fundraising we will do. Here's how:

(1) To enter the contest, each entrant must "pay" a $10 admission fee. Really, this is a donation to Katrina victims. I'll set that up as soon as I announce the scavenger hunt. (Yes, there's going to be another scavenger hunt!) More info to follow.

(2) To keep things simpler this year, we're only going to have four contestants. That's right, only four! And they won't be competing for immunity. What will happen is that each round they will be asked to cook something specific native to New Orleans. Then, based on how well they do, readers will vote for their favorites and here's the twist: to vote you must donate $5 to Katrina victims. Every $5 = 1 vote. So if you really love someone's entry, you can donate $100 to them and they'll get 20 votes. We're not concerned about democracy here, only fundraising. You can even buy your own victory because that kind of injustice helps those in need. Our ultimate goal is to raise as much money as we humanly can and this kind of set-up will make that possible. The player with the least amount of donations at the end of that round will be "eliminated."

If that seems unfair, remember: this is all for fun. And what makes it even funner is...(drumroll): celebrity coaches!

Each contestant will be assigned a celebrity food blogger coach. These are, in random order:

David Lebovitz!


(Sorry, Jeremy, couldn't find your picture!)


[This slot was filled by Louisa of Movable Feast but she can no longer do it. I'm working on a replacement right now!]

Their roles will be two-fold: (1) they will coach each contestant in the creation of their dishes for each round. This is no small thing since some of them have cookbooks and others received James Beard scholarships. You'll be in great hands! And (2) they will host your entries on their blogs. They'll be in your corner, rooting you on, and convincing their readers to donate money in your name. You'll be feeling the love hardcore.

And so that's how this is going to work. As for how we narrow it down to four contestants, that's where the scavenger hunt comes in. Tomorrow night I will reveal the new scavenger hunt list and you'll have 'til Sunday to take as many pictures as you can with the objects I assign. This year it will be mandatory that you use Flickr so please set up your accounts now. And, once again, you'll have to donate $10 to play---that'll get us off to a great start.

I realize that playing a game of "Survivor" while some are still struggling to survive may seem a bit callous, but we're playing in their honor and hopefully through challenges that highlight the great food of New Orleans we'll pay appropriate tribute to a great city in a moment of crisis. Let's do them proud!


amazingly brilliant idea.

Just a thought: EVERYDAY thousands (official numbers differ from 24.000 to 100.000) of people die due to hunger and the lack of water. Their problem: they don't get broad news coverage on cbs,nbc,cnn,... and they don't live in the US, the richest nation. No food blogger does cover this issue – because it’s not en vogue? Leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

I agree Christian. While in no way am I trying to denigrate Adam's effort my current thoughts are that 'charity begins at home'. On a slightly different subject, it astounds me that victims of Katrina are suffering so badly. If he can't look after his own country what the hell is Dubya doing in Iraq?
That aside, kudos to Adam for trying to help in some way. Please don't make the Scavenger Hunt 'all American type things'. There's a lot of us that read your blog from outside the US but we'd love the chance to try and compete.

Simply awesome Adam. A truly wonderful idea and I for one am looking forward to being on the other side of the competition this time around. Susan, do not fret! I competed in last year's AG Survivor from a land far, far away and it was super awesome. Just be creative.

For CHRISTIAN: You're so right!

Maybe Adam or someone will organize another effort for all of those people but right now, if you drink bottled water you could switch to Ethos Water who make regular donations to funding clean water projects around the world.

I know that's much too small a step but it's the only ongoing project of this sort that I know of. I learned about the company when I was living in Canada several years ago. CBC was aggressively trying to help the new company get off the ground. I thought it was a Canadian company but it's not; it's American.

Today I find Ethos water at Whole Foods and Starbucks.

Citizens of the U.S. donated over 1 billion to Tsunammi, and the food bloggers certainly made an effort to support Tsunammi fundraising, so why the bad vibes, Christian? Reminds me of how that old talentless Sex Pistol dissed Bono because he campaigns for Africa yet wears nice glasses. What a hypochrite Bono is to this cranky old punk geezer!

Also, how to stop overseas starvation can be a tricky thing... sometimes donations can actually further starvation.

Who will the money be donated to (which charity)? Will you take a vote?If there is to be no group consensus regarding the charity, can each player donate $10 to the charity of their choice and submit proof in order to play? Or do you require that all funds go together to be submitted in the name of the amateur gourmet?

Of the four hosting bloggers, two of us don't live in the United States, and another one of the food bloggers was born and raised outside the US of A. So hopefully we'll have participants from all over the world.
Everyone's welcome!

With the internet, I'm glad that people have access to news sources (and food blogs!) from around the world so they can see outside their borders once in a while and find what's going on in the rest of the world, (and not have to rely on what's offered by the networks and cable news...or the White House).

yous a genius kid. yous a real genius. :)
If i had a credit card i'd give u my munny.

brilliant! BRILLIANT!!!!

HUH? I don't get it. Just give to the Red Cross, they will see that the right people get the right assistance. I don't think we need to have a food fight, especially one which uses a "trendy" cover.

And what about the unfortunate people in Mississippi?

Guys, Adam is trying to do a good thing here.
While clearly there are other problems and needy people in the world, Adam has come up with a creative way to raise money for hurricane victims.
If you think it’s too little or too late or misplaced compassion, take your arguments somewhere else and donate on your own, but don’t rain on Adam’s parade when he’s trying to turn what he knows how to do into something that benefits others.
I don’t understand why we have to turn a donation drive for needy people into a bad thing.

It looks like a game show to benefit 4 bloggers. I think it's in bad taste.

Don't be discouraged by the negetive feed back. Because if every American took some action like you are then maybe the Katrina victim's would have not gone day's without food and water

Fantastic idea Adam. Bravo!!

It's an awesome idea. Am sure loads of people will participate.. I definitely agree with Christian but charity does begin at home. Looking f/w to participating!

Adam, I run a Food Pantry on the island and no matter what we try to do to help people there is always some smartass who has plenty of time to tell you what you are doing wrong and no time to help! The old saying is still true, No good deed goes unpunished. Press on, as we do, and screw the angry masses...Dee P.S. Love your site-want to steal Lolita.

LAguy and Richard - Perhaps we should tell the children that it's tacky to sell frosted cupcakes for Katrina victims? Those opportunistic little tykes just begging for attention! How sickening!

Really, stop being such sour pusses. THAT is in bad taste. And if use a bit of common sense, you will see that people will donate through this event BEYOND what they have already donated to the Red Cross BECAUSE it's a game. And besides, Red Cross advertisements and links are already posted at every other blog - this is offering something a bit different and a fun inspiration to donate again and again.

I think every bit helps. It is also human nature - that any kind of good will also means that the giver is getting something in return - be it self worth, press coverage, more hits on their website.

If we were to stop doing things such as what Adam is doing here, nothing would be done.

If we were to be self righteous, then we should also call in why management at the Red Cross (internationally) are paid big bucks doing what they do. Aid of any kind is big bucks.

If an idea like this generates some cash to feed a family, and make things better for them I say "wonderful".

Christian raises a very vaild point. It takes guts to play devils advocate and keep things transparent. I think we should keep Christians feedback in mind - because those of us accessing the internet, eating well, keeping food blogs etc are in a position to do something, and not only when things go wrong.

I feel a great sadness for the people of New Orleans and affected areas. There are millions who only know this suffering, it goes on day to day for them.

The only way I deal with it, is donate on a regular basis, and stay informed all the time.

P.S. Good work Adam. This is better than sitting on our butts doing nothing at all.

anyone who has such a "huge issue" with this, don't donate. it's not a 'mandatory event' and if you're that cynical, well... sucks to be you.

yes, there's people dying and starving elsewhere in the world, but that shouldn't detract or lessen the effects of Katrina... a life destroyed is a life destroyed regardless of nationality or circumstance and unless you're going to put yourself on the line on the same level as Adam, kindly snivel elsewhere.

As a professional fundraiser and a non-so-professional food blooger, I commend you! Nice work!

Doing something to relieve the pain is better than doing nothing. Good for you and anybody who takes your lead.


I like toast.

Great idea to kick it up a notch...BAM!

Sign Up for the Amateur Gourmet Email Newsletter:

Follow Me: