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Issue Date: May 2009

Random Acts of Food

Beth Stallings
Cleveland: Chefs Greg MacLaren and Ben Bebenroth are out to refute the old adage, "There's no such thing as a free lunch"

As part of Ben & Greg's Renegade Lunch Project, launched in January, the competing catering company owners (MacLaren of Marigold Catering and Bebenroth of Spice of Life Catering) set up monthly white-tablecloth seating for 24 at a Cleveland location and invite random passersby to enjoy a gourmet lunch for free. "[Greg] thought it would be cool to create this sort of social bridge to bring together people from different classes and walks of life for an hour just to eat," Bebenroth says.

The chefs merely ask for a donation to a local charity at the end of the meal. The February Renegade Lunch at Tower City raised $250 for the Rape Crisis Center. The monthly event rotates locations and grassroots charities in Cleveland.

"You're not going to leave hungry, that's for sure," Bebenroth says. Past menus have included roasted red pepper and potato soup, red beans and rice with smoked brine chicken, all washed down with sweet tea.

To keep the events random, the chefs announce their upcoming location only a few hours in advance. For updates, keep an eye on their blog at

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