Whether you live in New York or New Prague, you might like this behind-the-scenes peek proving it’s not always about the money:

On Friday Jan 4, we dropped our jaws when we heard that Embarrass MN, up by the Canadian border, was facing a day that would actually be colder than Mars, according to NASA’s one-ton, nuclear powered robotic rover Curiosity. Minutes later, we spontaneously decided to lure Facebook fans from Embarrass to escape the frigid temps for a free toasty warm meal in Hell.

Just as we were about to post it on Facebook, with our usual “Go Big or Go Home” bravado, we decided to invite the ENTIRE TOWN for a free brunch, no strings attached. Our Bar Manager threw in a free Bloody Mary. Then the bakers up at Angel Food said, “We’ll make them our torched marshmallows and hot cocoa” so anyone who actually ventured down can head back home with warm bellies. And then the comments started coming. A few within 30 seconds, a bunch in minutes, a flood in the first few hours. Lottsa likes. Loads of comments that were fun to read. We were tickled to death that folks loved the idea. And several families took up our offer. But that’s not the story…there’s always at least one renegade in the bunch. Buried in a plethora of fun comments, Embarrass resident Jeannine Bjornrud (the wife of a preacher man, no less) threw out a cheeky Facebook comment, saying she couldn’t make the 4-hour trek, but if we want to come to Embarrass and cook in her home, she sure could hustle up a crowd of townfolk. That’s when the fun really started.

Hell’s Kitchen surprised everyone by offering to throw a Fundraiser in Embarrass for their Fire Department (Mitch’s sometimes-illegal fascination with fire has been well documented). Diane Nelmark, the Town Clerk, scrambled to find a hall large enough to accommodate a crowd and enough kitchen equipment to cook hotcakes like crazy. By this time, word had spread, and the awesome firefighters asked if the fundraiser could also benefit the Regional Fair. Yup. And then it got bigger: nearby towns such as Tower, Ely and Aurora asked if they could come. Yup, yup, yup. Everyone’s welcome to snag a ticket and support 2 wonderful causes

So on Saturday, Feb 22, an army of volunteers will host a most unusual community fundraiser, Zups will provide bacon, and the owners of Hell’s Kitchen will be slinging their legendary Lemon Ricotta flapjacks. Starting Feb 1, tickets ($7 in advance, $10 at door) will be available from Embarrass firefighters, Embarrass Vermillion Federal Credit Union (Tower, Embarrass and Aurora), Northern Comfort B&B, and the Embarrass Clerk’s Office. Please spread the word to your friends in northern Minnesota.

P.S. By the way, we’ve gotten media calls from points all over, including The New York Times. Our favorite interview, however, was when an incredulous reporter from Washington asked, “How in hell did you get ‘corporate’ to ok this idea?” After apologizing for laughing out loud as his question, we had to explain that for feisty independents such as Hell’s Kitchen, it’s not always about the money.