Contestant will swap chef’s coat for ballroom duds at dancing gala
Eric Avila has been busy planning the menu for this year’s Dancing with the Detroit Stars gala which will include dishes like tempura green beans, white bean bruschetta, ceviche, Moroccan-spiced leg of lamb and grilled swordfish.
Avila is the executive chef at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham, which hosts the event on Saturday, Nov. 17. But on the big night, he’ll swap his chef whites for formal wear to dance as a competitor.
It’s what happens when you prepare a sumptuous meal for the fundraiser and casually joke about dancing in the event yourself.
“I am very excited about the event,” Avila says. “I was nervous at first, but I have a great dance teacher, and that makes it fun.”
Avila has been meeting two or three times a week since early October with his instructor partner from the Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Royal Oak to learn the Peabody, which he describes as being “like a fast ballroom dance.”
It will be his first time ballroom dancing before a crowd. He says there are some parallels to working as a chef.
“Each thing is much different but the planning is kind of the same,” Avila says. “You want to make sure your head is in it and you get the details right because they’re both very detail-oriented.”
Avila is also a fairly recent transplant to Michigan and the Midwest. He was born and raised in Tehachapi, Calif., a mountain town not far from Bakersfield. He attended the California School of Culinary Arts and worked as a banquet chef at the famed Hotel del Coronado near San Diego.
Avila moved to Michigan with his fiancé, Hailey Harrison, who grew up in Lake Orion. The two met while working at a Hyatt back in California. They’re planning to be married Dec. 7.
Come cheer on Chef Avila and the other dancers and help us build communities that end homelessness on Saturday, November 17. You can also support Chef Avila by visiting his fundraising page.