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Emeril, Rachael Ray to host fundraiser for educational nonprofit

Rachael Ray and Emeril Lagasse are coming to Wilmington next winter. (Courtesy photos)

WILMINGTON — Two celebrity chefs are headed to Wilmington next winter to host fundraisers for a local nonprofit.

Beacon Education — formerly GLOW NC, which started Girls Leadership Academy of Wilmington — centers on equitable access to high quality education. Next summer, it will open Spark Academy, co-ed early childhood education centers geared toward mixed-income families.

The 8th Annual Celebrity Chef Events, featuring Emeril Lagasse and Rachael Ray, will support both GLOW and Spark. GLOW is the only single-gender public charter school in Wilmington. It has added a new sixth-grade class each successive academic year since opening in 2016.

GLOW provides education to students in underserved communities through their senior year in preparation of college. Part of the Young Women’s Leadership Network, it has 19 single-gender schools nationwide.

“Spark will be the first of several early childhood education schools providing high quality programming for children six weeks through pre-kindergarten,” according to a release from Beacon. 

There will be sliding-scale scholarships provided to families that need financial assistance. Centers will be able to house 150 students and there will be a community healthcare clinic onsite.

The celebrity chef events will include an intimate dinner, hosted at a private residence on Feb. 9. A gourmet breakfast and a four-course luncheon also will take place at Landfall Country Club on Feb. 10.

Lagasse has visited Wilmington three times before in support of GLOW fundraisers. The school has been hosting the culinary events since 2015, an idea culled from its founder Judy Girard, who worked for the Food Network and is longtime friends with Emeril.

“Chef Lagasse inspired GLOW Academy’s robust culinary curriculum and the Emeril Lagasse Foundation recently contributed to an expansion of that program, provisioning a middle school classroom for teaching foundational kitchen prep, safety and cooking skills,” according to the release.

GLOW fundraisers also have welcomed Robert Irvine, Giada De Laurentiis, Guy Fieri, and Tyler Florence throughout the years, in addition to North Carolina’s own Ashley Christensen.

It will mark Rachael Ray’s debut for GLOW. The TV personality is well known for her syndicated daily talk and lifestyle show “Rachael Ray,” and the Food Network series “30 Minute Meals.” She has won three Daytime Emmy Awards as well, and launched her own nonprofit, Yum-o!, to help kids and families cull healthy relationships with food and preparing nutritious meals.

Tickets, sponsorships and other information about the fundraisers can be directed to

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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