Restaurant News & Reviews

Olympic swimmer serves up sushi for cancer charity

Four-time Olympic swimmer Kirsty Coventry helps launch the Pinky Swear Roll at Charlotte’s The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar, with Cowfish executive chef David Lucarelli.
Four-time Olympic swimmer Kirsty Coventry helps launch the Pinky Swear Roll at Charlotte’s The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar, with Cowfish executive chef David Lucarelli. Poprock Photography

The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar on Thursday will introduce a limited-edition roll on its sushi menu, with proceeds going to charity.

That’s the simplest way to explain it.

The background – involving a new triathlon in the Charlotte area, a pair of Olympic athletes (including one from Zimbabwe) and a Minnesota boy who died of cancer 12 years ago – is a little more complicated.

To explain:

Chuck McAllister, a resident of Trump National Golf Club in Mooresville and an avid triathlete, decided last year to pitch the idea of a sprint triathlon to the Trump family.

After they said yes, McAllister connected with four-time Olympic triathlete Hunter Kemper, a spokesperson for the Pinky Swear Foundation. (Quick aside: The Pinky Swear Foundation was created in memory of Mitch Chepokas, who was diagnosed with bone cancer at age 8. At the hospital, Mitch overheard another boy being told by his parents that they couldn’t afford Christmas presents due to medical bills. So Mitch asked his dad to take him to the bank, withdrew all the money in his savings account and shared it with the kids on the oncology floor. Before Mitch died, he asked his parents to promise – to pinky swear – that they would continue to help kids with cancer.)

Long story short, Kemper pledged his support of the Mooresville race, named Tri at the Trump and set for May 17, and convinced McAllister to add a kids’ triathlon the day before.

Since then, Ace & TJ’s Grin Kids and SwimMAC Carolina have come aboard as local beneficiaries.

SwimMAC’s Team Elite consists of 18 post-graduate swimmers chasing dreams of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. One of those swimmers – Kirsty Coventry, 31, of Zimbabwe – was eager to find a way to support the cause, having lost both of her grandmothers to cancer and having watched her mother go through a breast cancer diagnosis in 2007 then surgery, chemo and radiotherapy on the way to (a successful) recovery.

Coventry was so attracted to the cause, she became the sole official ambassador for the race.

(Almost there, we promise...)

SouthPark’s Cowfish restaurant is a sponsor of Tri at the Trump. Coventry, who moved to Charlotte from Africa to train with SwimMAC and Coach David Marsh last spring, loves Cowfish.

“When my husband and I first moved, this was the first place we came and ate,” she said. “My husband’s been away for about a month and I think I’ve ordered, come here and taken sushi to go home about three times.”

So, on Thursday, Coventry was at Cowfish to promote the release of the Pinky Swear Roll, which features eel, daikon sprouts, cucumber, salmon, tuna, onion, chives, sesame soy samba and jalapeno citrus aioli. She helped create the roll with executive chef David Lucarelli and master sushi chef Rifali Almunir.

The roll will be on the menu beginning Thursday, and available through July 15 at the Charlotte and Raleigh locations. Orders are $14, and a portion of sales from each one will benefit Charlotte’s chapter of the Pinky Swear Foundation.

Anyway, that’s the story.

Coventry may not be able to compete in the triathlon herself on May 17, because she’ll be swimming in the Arena Pro Swim Series meet in uptown Charlotte that weekend. But she said her husband, Ty Seward, plans to do the race.

“With me doing so much training, he has now decided he wants to train and he is determined to do his first Ironman next year,” she said. (An Ironman consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run.) So he’s going to be doing (Tri at the Trump), and he’s going to try and do I think a marathon or half marathon towards the end of the year, gearing up for that big old race. I’m like, ‘You’re brave, ’cause I don’t know if I could do that.”

Plus, Coventry has her own athletic goals to pursue: adding to her pile of Olympic medals. In the history of the country, Zimbabwe has earned eight. Seven of them belong to Coventry.

Janes: 704-358-5897;

Twitter: @theodenjanes

Tri at the Trump

The Pinky Swear Youth Triathlon, set for May 16, is a non-timed and non-competitive event broken up into three age groups – 6 to 9 (50-meter pool swim, 1.8-mile bike ride, 500-meter run), 10 to 13 (100-meter swim, 3.5-mile bike, 1,000-meter run) and 14-18 (150-meter swim, 5.1-mile ride, 1,500-meter run). Cost is $35.

The Tri At The Trump sprint triathlon, set for May 17, consists of a 750-meter lake swim, a 13.25-mile bike and a 5-kilometer run. Cost is $70.