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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.

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