Party with Purpose

How eating with friends can help the Gulf Coast

The oil well may be capped, but fishermen, wildlife and miles of coastline continue to suffer in the wake of this summer's catastrophic spill. Luckily, this crude cloud has a silver lining: You can use your cooking skills and social circle to aid the cleanup process.

Environment America is rallying home cooks across the country to raise money and awareness by hosting theme parties devoted to Louisiana's most celebrated culinary tradition: gumbo. The initiative, "Gumbo for the Gulf," supports the organization's efforts to save the coastline and help families affected by the disaster.

Party hosts get invitations, planning tips and (best of all) recipes from Louisiana power chefs Susan Spicer and John Besh. Even the token Ebenezer of your group is bound to open his wallet after downing bowlfuls of the steaming stew. Still not convinced? Check out these party shots and you'll be raring to go.

Or glean inspiration from Jarred Zeringue, the New Orleans architect-turned-restauranteur of eat New Orleans. In the aftermath of Katrina, Zeringue turned an erstwhile French Quarter dive into a hip Cajun-Creole BYOB place that supports area fishermen and farmers by serving local ingredients. His chicken and andouille gumbo (click here to download the recipe) is one of the restaurant's hottest items–and a surefire moneymaker for your own fundraising fete.