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Chefs for Equality … Chefs Take a Stand … While the NFL Hides Behind a Shield

Once chefs took on full-blown celebrity status, the public started looking at them for answers to questions that go beyond making a fine sauce or sauteeing a perfect filet of fish. They were looked to as stewards of the land and sea and have been called upon to speak with authority about issues like sustainability, food borne illnesses and feeding the world … pretty heavy topics for the kitchen.

On social issues, kitchens and dining rooms haven’t been perfect in welcoming women into manly havens … much like most of the world. I know a woman chef from my Ohio restaurants days who in one of her first jobs after culinary school worked at a four-star Boca Raton restaurant. A single woman on the line with all men … she was harassed, deliberately burned and the subject of a constant move to drive her away. She prevailed and so have many others.

But we have never hidden behind a shield built on money and testosterone and yes, Roger Goodell, the times have changed. Chefs now tackle social issues with the same creativity and passion they use to lead their own staffs. Look around us as you see chefs giving of their time, food and talent for fighting childhood hunger, ovarian cancer … and I almost need to stop right here because I don’t want to slight anyone’s favorite cause as they all need our help. But I have to mention a couple more that are close to me … DC Central Kitchen and St. Jude. The chefs, restaurateurs, staff and bartenders are all on the front line using their celebrity and talent to raise needed monies to continue the fight and research.

Chefs for Equality

I cannot say enough good things about David Hagedorn, Washington food writer, and orchestrator of a three-year triumph of gathering chefs for what has turned into a top-tier social, fundraising event. Chefs for Equality raises money for the Human Rights Campaign Foundation working for lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender equal rights. With the support of the restaurant community and a stellar committee of Nycci Nellis, Amber Pfau, Christopher Vazquez, Todd Thrasher, Simone Rathle, Anthony Hesselius, Mark Indre and Adra Williams, Hagedorn has made the impossible into a party with a purpose. Happy One-Year Anniversary to David and Michael!

Chefs Take A Stand

But there’s more to be done. Presented by Google and The Allstate Foundation, the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) is, once again, partnering with top women chefs and mixologists to bring Chefs Take a Stand to DC. I attended the last one in Washington two years ago.

Chefs Take a Stand will be held on October 9 at 7 p.m. at the Carnegie Library in Washington and will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act. The evening will be hosted once again by Carla Hall, chef and co-host of ABC’s The Chew. If you haven’t seen Carla work a room … well let’s say it’s a “Hootie Hoo!”

Chefs Take a Stand will feature multiple chef and mixologist stations where guests will be sampling tastes or sips for the evening. A few of the confirmed talent includes: Amy Brandwein, Alba Osteria, Gina Chersevani, Mixologist at Buffalo and Bergen, Kate Jansen and Tracy O’Grady, Wheatless by Willow, Ris Lacoste, Ris, Jamie Leeds, Hank’s Oyster Bar, Marjorie Meek-Bradley, Ripple, Michelle Poteaux, Bastille Restaurant, Rachel Sergi, Mixologist at Lincoln, Susan Soorenko, Moorenko’s and Laurie Alleman Weber, Swiss Bakery. The website is www.nnedv.org for those who want to learn more or jump in with your support and a more complete list of chefs.

Maybe Mr. Goodell could stop by and see some real teamwork. Bring your checkbook.

About the Author

Michael Birchenall is Editor and Publisher of Foodservice Monthly, a regional trade publication covering the foodservice industry of the Mid-Atlantic (DE, DC, MD, VA). Foodservice Monthly has been recognized as the Restaurant Association of Maryland's Allied Industry Member of the Year and by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington as the Joan Hisaoka Associate Member of the Year.

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