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June 17, 2015

Food & Friends Raises Close to $1.1 Million at the 25th Anniversary Chef’s Best

On Monday, June 15th, 50 of the area’s best chefs served tastings of their signature plates in the ballroom of the Marriott Marquis to raise money for Food & Friends. The chefs were participating in our 25th Anniversary Chef’s Best Dinner & Auction Presented by Friendship Hospital
 for Animals. We proudly honored the Marriott family, Marriott International and The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation during the event.

Chef’s Best was in a new home this year, the stunning Marquis Ballroom at the brand new Marriott Marquis. 

During the VIP Reception, Board President Mike Bento recognized partners that have supported Food & Friends for over a decade. Peter Glassman, Director of Friendship Hospital for Animals and Debbie Marriott Harrison, Global Officer, Marriott Culture and Business Councils for Marriott International were recognized for their numerous contributions over the years. Also honored was David Hagedorn who started Chef’s Best 25 years ago and helped to build it into one of the best nights of philanthropy in Washington, DC. 

Supporters gave in various ways including a Live Auction with once-in-a-lifetime experiences and trips. Highlights included a trip to Cuba which sold to three different bidders for $10,500 each, a cooking class and lunch with Chef Patrick O’Connell at the Inn at Little Washington which sold for $11,000 and a home-made dinner for 8 by Food & Friends’ Executive Chef which sold for $5,700. An appeal was made to the audience to support Food & Friends’ clients – current and new – facing diabetes. Guests at Chef’s Best gave generously and more than $76,000 was collected.

Celebrity Chef Co-Chair, Jeff Black of Black Restaurant Group, took the stage to thank attendees and make a special announcement. He told a story of visiting Food & Friends’ facility and being so taken with the operation that he asked a simple question; “What would it take for me to pay for the food in this place for one day?” He got the answer and at last night’s event, Jeff Black, with his family and their foundation, donated $35,000 to fund one full day of meals for Food & Friends’ clients.

All proceeds from Chef’s Best will ensure the delivery of specialized meals and personalized nutrition counseling to Food & Friends’ clients living with cancer, HIV/AIDS and other life-challenging illnesses. This year, supporters will help provide more than 1 million meals to more than 2,700 individuals in Washington, DC, Virginia and Maryland. Food & Friends depends on the support of corporations, foundations and individuals and is grateful for the sponsors who have contributed to Chef’s Best.

June 4, 2015

Extraordinary Partnership Reaps Extraordinary Results

Since 2001, Food & Friends has partnered with The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation and Marriott International to improve the lives of people living with life-challenging illnesses in the Washington, DC metro area.

Since 2001, Marriott employees have served thousands
of hours in our kitchen.
Grants totaling more than $1,000,000 from the Marriott Foundation have supported our capital campaign and cancer services program, and Marriott properties have donated hotel stays for our Chef’s Best auction raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to support those we serve. Marriott has not just provided financial support, their commitment to volunteerism is remarkable and we have been honored to have associates spend thousands of hours in our kitchen as part of their annual Spirit to Serve Our Communities day, as well as regularly throughout the year.

Debbie Marriott Harrison, Global Officer, Marriott Culture and Business Councils, Marriott International has this to say about the unique relationship between Food & Friends and Marriott:

We are proud to honor the Marriott Family, Marriott
International, Inc. and The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott
Foundation at this year's Chef's Best.
“Our longstanding partnership with Food & Friends illustrates The Marriott Foundation’s desire to support organizations that help lift up the most vulnerable. Investing in the communities where Marriott International does business makes our Spirit to Serve culture more vibrant and our society stronger. Quality service is at the core of how we do business and we see this same value in Food & Friends’ long track record of providing high quality, nutritious and specialized meals to people facing life-challenging illnesses. We are delighted to support this remarkable organization.”

Food & Friends’ partnership with Marriott is rooted in similar values and the belief that neighbors should help their neighbors. Over the past 13 years, our partnership has proven the extraordinary impact that is made possible through joined effort. We are looking forward to paying them special tribute during Chef’s Best this year.

June 3, 2015

It’s Our 25th Anniversary of Chef’s Best!

In a community filled with food happenings running the gamut from festivals to galas, events tend to come and go. What is successful one year, may be gone the next. But, one celebration you can mark down every year as a sure thing is Chef’s Best Dinner & Auction.

Chef's Best has grown tremendously in the past 25 years.
More than 1,300 guests are expected to attend this year.
For a quarter century, Chef’s Best has drawn attendees from around the country to a one-evening celebration of local cuisine, signature cocktails, delicious desserts and charity.

This year’s event is presented by Friendship Hospital for Animals and will honor the Marriott family, Marriott International and The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation.

More than 1,300 guests are expected to attend on June 15th at the Marriott Marquis. David Hagedorn, recipient of this year’s Visionary Leader Award and founder of Chef’s Best, will be one of them.

David Hagedorn is a chef, restaurateur, food writer, Washington Post food columnist and event extraordinaire. He was inspired to create Chef’s Best 25 years ago after meeting the founder and past executive director of Food & Friends, Carla Gorell.

“At that time, the mission was to feed homebound people with HIV and AIDS. That was a huge problem in the nineties. There was a tremendous need there,” says David. “People didn’t know yet that the need was there and there was an organization like Food & Friends meeting that need.”

When he first visited Food & Friends, which was housed in the basement of a church, he was shocked at the condition of the facilities.

This year, 60 of the region's most talented chefs will donate
their time to provide tastings to support Food & Friends.
“The basement was a very small place and they were starting to outgrow the space. The facilities and conditions were really pitiful,” says David. “It was clear that they couldn’t stay in that space for too long. They needed to grow and they needed money.”

What David felt he could bring to the equation was awareness and ultimately more funding. So he resolved to put on a benefit at West End Café in the One Washington Circle Hotel – the first ever Chef’s Best Dinner & Auction.

David recruited his close chef friends to join him. Roberto Donna, Patrick O’Connell, Jean-Louis Palladin, Francesco Ricchi, Greggory Hill and Melissa Balinger were among the twelve chefs who participated.

The first event attracted more than 200 people and raised $45,000. With such success, it was clear that this needed to be an annual gathering.

“The place was packed and the food was great. It was just magical.”

David and Stephen T. Brown hosted the second Chef’s Best at One Washington Circle Hotel which raised nearly $90,000. The third event was hosted at Phillips Flagship.

Over the next 21 years, Chef’s Best Dinner & Auction would grow to become one of the premiere food events in the Washington DC Region and would raise millions in critical funds to support Food & Friends’ mission.

“I can’t help but feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment and pride. I wish the need wouldn’t be so great.”

Chef’s Best is made possible by the generosity of the hundreds of chefs who have donated their time and resources – including David Hagedorn and the first twelve Chef’s Best chefs who were true pioneers for Food & Friends’ mission of caring for those with life-challenging illnesses.

“It supports what I already knew about the chef community in Washington. We have the greatest chef community,” says David. “There isn’t a chef community that is as supportive, selfless and generous. The proof is in the pudding. They are still there after all these years.”

As we celebrate 25 years of Chef’s Best Dinner & Auction, please show your support by buying tickets and raffle tickets, volunteering or sponsoring the event.

May 26, 2015

Chef's Best Celebrates 25 Years on June 15th!

On Monday, June 15th, the region's best chefs will donate their time and talents to delight guests during the 25th Anniversary Chef's Best Dinner & Auction presented by Friendship Hospital for Animals, honoring the Marriott family, Marriott International and The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation. 

Your attendance will help provide nutritious, home-delivered meals to children and adults throughout our region battling HIV/AIDS, cancer and other debilitating illnesses. As a guest you'll enjoy tantalizing food, drinks and auction items. 

Mini steak sandwiches, seared sea scallop with spring pea sushi rice, sesame and sweet corn-togarashi puree, and ginger lamb and beer meatballs with tamarind sauce...these are just a few of the delectable dishes you'll devour at Chef's Best.

Don't miss this exceptional evening of generosity! 

Buy your sponsorship or tickets today!

May 4, 2015

Fad Diets: Do They Live Up to the Hype?

We have all seen advertisements for the latest and greatest diet. They promise magic results, such as “Lose 15 pounds in 1 week!” or “Never feel tired again!” These new, popular diets are termed “fad diets.” Their health claims are appealing because they offer immediate results and often show a celebrity who lost weight by following one.

But, are fad diets too good to be true? Most likely, yes.

These diets rarely have staying power. Some people have short-term success, but the diet is usually too restrictive to maintain positive and consistent results. Even though these diets aren’t quick, miracle solutions, some of the characteristics of these diets may be beneficial. Here’s a closer look at some fad diets:

This diet centers around only eating foods that can be hunted or gathered; theoretically what cavemen ate. On this diet, you can eat meat, fish, poultry, eggs, vegetables, and fruit. You cannot have grains, dairy, legumes (beans and peas), sugar, or salt. 

  • PRO: You will likely eat more vegetables and fruit! Vegetables and fruit provide important nutrients, such as vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, and fiber, which you need to maintain your health. You may also reduce your sodium intake by eating less processed foods. Eating less sodium may help keep your blood pressure in the recommended range.
  • CON: By excluding whole grains and dairy, you are missing out on important vitamins and minerals, such as calcium and vitamin D. You may also over consume fat, especially if you do not choose lean meats. Eating an excess amount of saturated fats may increase your cholesterol and predispose you to heart disease. Lastly, weight loss will follow any diet if the amount of calories you eat is less than the amount of calories you burn exercising or are used to keep your organs functioning.

There are many variations of a “detox diet.” Typically you fast or limit the amount you eat at the beginning. Then, you avoid certain food groups, such as grains. Throughout, detox dieters may drink specific juices or smoothies as meal replacements.

  • PRO: Many detox diets encourage smoothies of fresh fruits and vegetables, which everyone should eat more of in their diet. Additionally, by fasting or eating very little, you may identify certain foods that trigger symptoms for you like constipation or diarrhea. Registered Dietitians can help you identify these trigger foods in safer and healthier ways.
  • CON: You will lose weight, but it is because many of these detox diets are dangerously low in calories and protein. You may feel tired and dizzy and experience headaches. Importantly, the premise of many of these diets is flawed. They propose that toxins are widespread in our food supply, and you need periods of “detoxing.” In reality, if a food were full of dangerous chemicals, the United States Department of Agriculture would not allow it on the shelves. Also, you do not need a special diet to “detox.” Your body naturally removes toxins. Your liver breaks down harmful chemicals, and your kidneys get rid of them in your urine.

If you want to follow a healthy diet, you may see these fad diets and be confused or discourage by all the false information portrayed. The Paleo Diet and Detox Diets are just 2 of the many fad diets out there, and there is always a new one around the corner. Luckily, nutrition professionals are looking out for you. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has issued a simple guide to help you spot fad diets that cannot be trusted. They recommend that you ignore a diet if it has any of these characteristics:
  1. Encourages rapid weight loss
  2. Allows unlimited amounts of a certain food
  3. Removes an entire food group
  4. Makes you follow a complicated eating schedule
  5. Says that you do not need to exercise
If you are looking to make your diet healthier, try to make ½ of your plate fruits and vegetables, choose lean proteins like lean meats and legumes, eat low-fat dairy items, substitute whole grain products for refined grains when you can, and use healthy fats like plant oils instead of saturated fats like butter. In your diet, incorporate cultural dishes that you like and flavors that you cannot live without. Keep in mind that a diet you can sustain will help you avoid “yo-yo” weight changes, which occur when you lose weight quickly only to gain it back later. The healthiest and most realistic way to lose weight is gradually, ½ to 1 pound per week.

For even more tips on how to create a personalized healthy diet, schedule a meeting with a local dietitian. Happy eating!

Rachel Kelley, MS
NIH Dietetic Intern

Anna Kinard, RD
Community Dietitian

With Us Since the Beginning: Meet Ed Turner

Ed Turner has been acting on his passion for volunteering since a young age.

“As many people do, I grew up giving of myself. It was important,” says Ed. “Service was instilled by society, family and faith or spirituality. I was always doing something.”

Volunteer Ed Turner first volunteered with Food & Friends
more than 28 years ago.

For Ed, volunteerism became even more personal when he began delivering meals to two of his friends facing AIDS more than 28 years ago, before Food & Friends was founded.

“Food & Friends hadn’t really started yet. I was dispatched to pick up meals for my friends from the basement of the church,” says Ed. “They needed help because they didn’t have the energy or time to cook.”

Since then, Ed volunteered periodically until five years ago when he committed to delivering meals on a regular basis.

“Delivering meals takes me out of my comfort zone and challenges me. And I am able to have direct interaction with clients. I knew it was the right fit.”

Ed learned that anything can happen when you dedicate your time and heart to helping others – and he passes this sense of care to each of the clients he visits.

“For some clients, it may be the only interaction they have. If all I have to do is say ‘It’s good to see you today’ and they know I mean that, I’ve done what I need to do,” says Ed. “I’ve gotten them through another day. Maybe they’ll feel better tomorrow.”

Ed believes that anyone has the ability to volunteer and that Food & Friends has opportunities for everyone. In addition to delivering meals, Ed serves as a restaurant host for our annual Dining Out for Life fundraiser. During the event, Ed mingles with diners while raising critical funds for Food & Friends’ mission.

“If you are at all lucky, which many of us are, you can do something to help. We all have a talent and we all have time.”

Ed views volunteering as an enriching and normal part of life. And, despite his busy schedule, he claims that balancing his life with service has not been as difficult as people may think.

“You all make it easy to volunteer. All you need is 45 minutes and a smile. It’s really that simple.”

Delivering meals to his good friends facing AIDS might be what introduced Ed to Food & Friends, but it’s the feeling he gets when he volunteers that keeps him coming back. 

After I volunteer, I leave with perspective. I’m back with Food & Friends and it’s where I’m supposed to be.”

April 22, 2015

Dine Out and Win


Have you made reservations for Dining Out for Life on Thursday? It couldn't be any easier for you to make an impact in the lives of children and adults who are nutritionally at-risk due to critical illness.

As a thank you, you could WIN BIG! On Thursday, four lucky diners will be randomly selected to win one of these amazing prizes. 

 Unleash your inner foodie and get cooking with a Whole Foods Market Foodie™ specialty basket and $500 gift card.
 Sip on a signed bottle of Rock Creek White Whiskey & District Made Vodka from One Eight Distilling.
 Watch the Nationals take on the Rays, with 4 tickets, 5 rows behind first base, and parking.
  Fly away with a $500 American Airlines gift card.

And, by filling out an envelope that evening, you could win a $1,000 American Airlines gift card. 

Don't wait! Find a restaurant and make a reservation through OpenTable so you can participate in our "Dine Out and Win" prize giveaway!

April 21, 2015

Queen Force One Schedule for Dining Out for Life

Drum roll please....the Queen Force One Dining Out For Life schedule is complete. #DineOutDC. Make your reservations today for 4/23 at!

6:30 PM
Dino’s Grotto (1914 9th Street Northwest) 
Beau Thai – Shaw (1550 7th Street Northwest) 

7:15 PM
Perry’s Restaurant (1811 Columbia Rd NW) 
Mintwood Place (1813 Columbia Rd NW) 

8:00 PM
Duplex Diner (2004 18th St NW) 
L’Enfant Café (2000 18th St NW) 

8:45 PM
La Tomate (1701 Connecticut Ave NW) 
Station Kitchen and Cocktails (2015 Massachusetts Ave NW) 

9:15 PM
Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse (1609 17th St NW) 
Hank’s Oyster Bar DC (1624 Q St NW) 

9:45 PM
Commissary (1443 P St NW) 
Logan Tavern (1423 P St NW) 

10:15 PM
Ristorante Posto (1515 14th St NW) 
Pearl Dive Oyster Bar (1612 14th St NW)

April 8, 2015

Gifts from the Heart: Spirit of Giving Inspires Supporters Linda and David Purcell

“I’ll never forget them. I still drive by their houses and say, ‘There is Leroy’s house and that is Mila’s.’ You don’t forget people like that.”

This memory of delivering meals is part of what drives volunteers and donors, Linda and David Purcell.

Linda and David were first introduced to Food & Friends in 1996 when they were at brunch with some friends and saw hundreds of bikes passing. They later learned the bikers were riding as part of the first DC to Philly AIDSRide. Inspired by their commitment, for the next three years Linda volunteered for the AIDSRide while David rode in two of them.

Like so many others, Linda and David have been personally affected by HIV and AIDS. They had a friend who passed away from AIDS and they currently know people who are battling the disease. Their involvement with Food & Friends stems from their appreciation for the services we provide and their understanding of how necessary they are.

“Cancer and AIDS are very powerful diseases. Just getting something to eat is important. People really need this service and it really makes a difference in their lives.”

After volunteering with the AIDSRides, Linda felt compelled to continue her involvement with Food & Friends. She started delivering meals and, in 2006, both Linda and David started volunteering every Thursday in the kitchen. They’ve been regulars ever since.

The satisfaction of knowing she is helping someone is what makes the volunteering so worth it for Linda. Additionally, she feels it is a challenging yet life-enriching experience.

“After I volunteer, I’m tired as heck, but you feel like you’ve had fun, that you were appreciated and you’re surrounded by people who enjoy what they are doing,” says Linda. “You feel inspired. You always know what you are doing it for."

David and Linda Purcell have been supporting Food & Friends since 1996.
Linda and David recognize the link between food, nutrition and health. In fact, their interest to support grew as their involvement grew, and now we are proud to call them volunteers and donors.

Linda says she likes supporting Food & Friends because she knows we are a good steward of their funds and that her contribution will be put to good use.

“You want the money to go to the right place. We don’t give to any organization that does not have at least a three star rating with Charity Navigator,” says Linda. “We’ve been impressed with Food & Friends since we first got involved. It’s a great place to donate because it’s going to go far and it’s just managed so well.”

Linda points out that illness will always exist and so will the need for the unique services Food & Friends provides. To ensure Food & Friends will be a vital community resource in the future, they joined our Legacy Society and have included Food & Friends in their will.

“Financial support will always be needed. Food & Friends is an organization that keeps getting better and better. Food & Friends is a timeless and sustainable organization to support. It’s great to be part of that.”

Linda and David’s passion, commitment and friendship exemplify the spirit of Food & Friends. We cannot thank them enough for the impact they've made on thousands of our neighbors facing critical illnesses.

What motivates you? What can you do to make a difference? Donate to Food & Friends.

Dine Out on April 23rd: Take a Stand by Sitting Down and Enjoying a Meal
No one is immune from illness and no one is immune from hunger. Nowhere is that more evident than in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia.

Nobody should have to choose between buying food and medication. You can help make this decision easier for hundreds of people in our local community.

Simply by dining out on April 23rd, you can support children and adults fighting critical illnesses by raising funds for our home-delivered nutrition services. More than 90 restaurants are participating – each donating 25-100% of your bill to Food & Friends.

Don’t wait until April 23rd! Here are 3 ways you can get ready!

MAKE A RESERVATION. Restaurants are filling up quickly so call to reserve your seat! OpenTable makes it easy for you to book at a number of participating restaurants.

JOIN OUR THUNDERCLAP! Sign up and a message inviting people to dine out will automatically post on your social media accounts on April 22nd. 

DONATE. Make a gift to support our work. Everyone who donates will be entered to win a $1,000 US Airways Gift Card!

Dining Out for Life® is an easy way to make a difference. All you have to do is exactly what you do many other nights of the week – go out to a restaurant with friends and family. The cost isn’t any higher and it gives you an excuse to order that extra piece of dessert.