Cambridge Chef Raises Money To Help His Mother Rebuild Her Greenhouses

By Lisa Hughes, WBZ-TV

GROTON (CBS) — Exactly a month ago, Groton greenhouse owner Jodie Gilson was staring at a disaster. Her football field-sized growing center was buried under heavy snow. The roofs collapsed and much of what was inside was destroyed. Nearly 20 years of work had been crushed in less than two minutes. Jodie says she didn’t realize how devastating it would be to lose what was her life.

But that sense of defeat didn’t last long. Her son, Will Gilson, was already cooking up a plan. Will is the chef at the Cambridge restaurant, Garden at the Cellar. He grew up in the greenhouses and helped build them. He knew what they meant to his mom. And after years of cooking for charity events in greater Boston, Will knew that if anyone could help get Jodie back on her feet, it would be his friends in the restaurant business. “I opened up my computer and wrote an e-mail,” he says. “The most honest thing, I could.”

WBZ-TV’s Lisa Hughes reports.

In the message, he asked for help creating a fundraiser. After talking with Jodie, Will knew that if he could raise $20,000 it would be enough to get his mom started for the spring growing season. He put out the call for help. The response was overwhelming. “I woke up the next day to 45 e-mails from some of the most important people in Boston.”

One of those people was Garrett Harker, the owner of the Kenmore Square restaurant, Eastern Standard. He saw Will’s e-mail and immediately donated a week of late-night dining proceeds to the Jodie Gilson Fund. And then, Will came up with an idea; he would hold a dinner for 200 people. He’d charge $100 each and raise the money for a replacement greenhouse. Just as the idea was coming together, the Boston Center for Adult Education called him. People at the BCAE had heard about his idea and wanted to donate their space.

For Jodie, it’s a little overwhelming. “I don’t know how I’m going to repay people for all this. But if they’re willing to help William’s mom get back on her feet, I’m going to swallow my pride and say, ‘Thank-you so much.’ I can’t tell you how much this means to me.”

Saturday night, March 5th, Will Gilson and fourteen other Boston chefs will donate their time and talents for a dinner and live auction. The whole thing came together in three weeks. And Will Gilson says it makes him feel great to help his mom. And he can’t thank his fellow chefs enough. “I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face. Boston has the best restaurant community.”

For more information on how to purchase tickets, go to the function’s website.

More from Lisa Hughes
  • Vera Carroll

    Always great to hear about people helping others

  • Stephen Titus

    What an amazing night it was…keep on giving!!! We LOVE Jodie (oh, and Will too!) LOVE! – Steve

  • Loring Barnes

    it was nice to see Lisa Hughes and her husband there as well. Not only did she tell the story to bring it to public attention, but she supported the effort personally as did other noteworthy journalists (Erin Byers Murray and Laura Raposa could be seeing shucking and bartending respectively). It was a great evening and shows the best side of Southern New England’s (not just Boston’s) restaurant community and followers. Will Gilson is the epitome of “pay it forward.” Arguably Boston’s most charitable chef, the impact of his selfless giving over years was evident in the hands raised by so many who were only to happy to repay his long record of generosity. Now… who’s going to help BUILD these greenhouses?

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