Updates for Partnerships
Ever since I came to DC Central Kitchen I’ve considered myself blessed by the opportunities I’ve been given and the life I’ve been able to make for myself as a graduate of the Culinary Job Training program. I enrolled in the program in January of 2011, graduated in April, and launched my first real career by joining DCCK’s Healthy School Food program. I’ve recently worked my way up to become a culinary instructor in the very same program that changed my life four years ago. I didn’t think things could get better, but on Friday, January 16, they did.
One of our board members, Lisa McGovern, is married to Rep. Jim McGovern, who represents the 2nd congressional district of Massachusetts. As an elected official, the congressman attends each State of the Union and is given one additional ticket to use as he chooses. This year, the congressman and his wife offered the ticket to DC Central Kitchen! I was honored to represent my colleagues at what was, quite simply, one of the best nights of my life.
I spent Tuesday as I would any other work day – in the kitchen teaching the 25 students currently enrolled in the Culinary Job Training program how to fabricate chicken. I wasn’t planning to leave early until one of my colleagues suggested I take a little extra time to go home and change.
By 5 p.m., my heart was pounding. The congressman invited me to meet him at his office in the Cannon House Office Building so we could walk to the Capitol together. When I arrived, I was greeted by the congressman himself, who immediately embraced me and thanked me for joining him. At this point, I was nearly dizzy from excitement.
The congressman then informed me that we were about to have dinner in Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s office where I would go on to meet Congresswoman Pelosi, Rep. Joe Kennedy, and an added bonus – Chef Tom Colicchio! As soon as I explained that I worked at DC Central Kitchen, several people in the room stopped to tell me what great work we’re doing in our community. I was bursting with pride for my colleagues and proud to represent all of us on this special night.
Approximately two hours before the president was due to give his State of the Union address, Congressman McGovern and I made our way to the House Chamber where he helped me find my seat for the big event. I spent the next two hours on the edge of my seat, my ears and my mind buzzing. I saw the speaker’s desk and imagined the speaker and vice president arriving. I watched the arrivals of the Supreme Court Justices, The First Lady, the Joint Chiefs of Staff – you name it!
Time flew by, and the next thing I knew, the president was introduced. My skin became numb and I could feel my cheeks begin to ache from smiling so much. All of our leaders were there together in one room, and I had a front row seat to see democracy in action.
My experience on January 20 was nothing short of spectacular. It was an honor to be in the company of our elected representatives and to represent DC Central Kitchen that evening.
To Congressman and Mrs. McGovern – thank you! I’ll never forget the night I watched the State of the Union from the House Chamber of the United States Capitol. More importantly, I’ll never forget my civic responsibility to be an active participant in our democracy. As I told my culinary students the next day, change is possible, but only if we’re willing to put in the work.
This past Saturday and Sunday, kitchen legends José Andrés, Joan Nathan, and Alice Waters hosted the annual Sips & Suppers weekend culinary event to raise funds for DC Central Kitchen and Martha’s Table. Top toques from around the country gathered in the nation’s capital for two extraordinary evenings of fine dining and raised more than $500,000 to support our vital work to help break the cycles of hunger and poverty.
On Saturday, Sips brought more than 1,000 guests to the Newseum to sample artisan and restaurant dishes while imbibing master creations from local mixologists like Gina Chersevani of Buffalo & Bergen, Trevor Frye of Jack Rose, and Chad Robinson of Catoctin Creek. VIP guests enjoyed the opportunity to meet, mingle and have cookbooks signed by celebrity chefs including Carla Hall, Charles Phan and Aglaia Kremezi from Greece, while all guests had the opportunity to enjoy the JetBlue Lounge and the Celebrity Cruises “partyvators” in the Newseum’s glass elevators.
On Sunday, Suppers were hosted at 31 homes across D.C. and Northern Virginia. Guests gathered in the intimate setting to enjoy exquisite five-course meals and wine pairings prepared by the nation’s most talented chefs including David Chang of Momofuku, Adam Sobel of RN74, and Michael Solomonov of Zahav as well as more than 40 of DC’s stellar chefs including Ris Lacoste of Ris, Erik Bruner Yang of Toki Underground, Jamie Leeds of Hank’s Oyster Bar and Mike Isabella of Graffiato.
“We’re thrilled that this year’s Sips & Suppers exceeded all expectations,” said Joan Nathan, renowned cookbook author and co-founder of Sips & Suppers. “It is truly amazing to have the culinary community’s support in our efforts to fight hunger in the district and in supporting the practical solutions that DC Central Kitchen and Martha’s Table provide.”
Sips & Suppers 2015 marked the 7th anniversary of the event, which was founded in 2009 as celebrities both in and out of the kitchen descended on DC to celebrate the first inauguration of President Obama. For additional information on Sips & Suppers, please visit www.sipsandsuppers.org.
Tickets to D.C.’s culinary weekend extravaganza, Sips & Suppers, are now on sale. Join Joan Nathan, Alice Waters and José Andrés on January 24-25 for two extraordinary evenings of fine dining supporting DC Central Kitchen and Martha’s Table.
Sips: Saturday, January 24 | 7:30 p.m.
Sips will feature top mixologists and chefs from across the country, preparing signature dishes and drinks throughout the evening. General admission tickets are now available for $95 each.
VIP tickets, priced at $200, are also available and include one hour early access to the Newseum, an exclusive VIP lounge with notable chefs such as Joan Nathan, Alice Waters and Carla Hall, a wine tasting featuring flights from acclaimed local Virginia wineries, epicurean hors d’oeuvres, and a VIP gift bag including a signed celebrity chef cookbook.
Suppers: Sunday, January 25 | 6:00 p.m.
Suppers will be held at more than 30 homes across the city featuring some of the nation’s most celebrated chefs. Toques such as David Chang, Cathal Armstong, and Charles Phan will descend on D.C. to prepare exquisite meals for Supper guests. This intimate setting allows guests to speak with these master chefs, dine on five course meals expertly paired with fine wines from around the world. Tickets for Suppers are priced at $600.
Sips & Suppers is made possible by the generous support of sponsors, including the Newseum, PNC Bank, Ritz-Carlton Hotels, and Whole Foods.
If you didn’t make it to the Capital Food Fight™ last Tuesday, or happen to read the article in The Washington Post last Wednesday, then you probably haven’t heard that DCCK has made our first foray into the supermarket food manufacturing space! That’s right, our Chow-Chow, a sweet, pickled relish made from a combination of vegetables and served cold, is now available on Whole Foods Market olive bars and packaged in ‘to go’ containers at the Tenleytown, Georgetown, Foggy Bottom, and P Street locations.
Like all of our social enterprise activities, DCCK will produce and distribute the Chow-Chow out of our Nutrition Lab kitchen facility located in Northeast DC, and each batch will be prepared by graduates of our Culinary Job Training program.
Chow-Chow can be eaten by itself or as a savory condiment on fish, poultry, crackers, and a variety of other foods. Head over to your local Whole Foods and try it for yourself – 100% percent of proceeds support DCCK!
It was another packed house at DC Central Kitchen’s Class 97 graduation ceremony on October 10. Friends, family and esteemed guests joined DCCK staff, CJT graduates, and current CJT students at the commemorative event held at the U.S. Navy Memorial and Heritage Center.
Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie gave the keynote address, during which he spoke about his own story of success and the journey that brought him to public service. Though today the Councilmember is a law school graduate, he faced serious barriers in pursuing higher education. Raised by a working-class family in Northeast DC, Councilmember McDuffie worked as a mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service before attending college and becoming the first male in his family ever to graduate from college.
Like many of our students, McDuffie knew he was capable of more, but had to seek the courage to try and maintain the perseverance to meet his own potential.
“Class 97, always remember your struggle, but never jeopardize the investments you’ve made.”
Sixteen out of 20 Class 97 graduates have already secured employment with an average starting wage of $12.07 per hour. Employers include the newly opened Willie’s Brew and Que, owned by former culinary job training instructor Chef Rock Harper, Sodexo food services at Venable and Howard University, Nando’s, CulinAerie, and Burger Works. The remaining graduates will continue to receive employment support from DCCK, including resume preparation, mock interviews, and job placement.
DC Central Kitchen’s graduation is always a high-energy, festive event that marks the end of a rigorous 14-week commitment our students have made not only to their culinary training, but to the self-empowerment and life skills they need to be successful in their lives and careers.
Thank you to everyone who joined us, and for the investments of our friends and champions that help make DCCK’s Culinary Job Training program a reality.
Check out more great photos from Class 97′s graduation ceremony on our Flickr page.
Last week, The Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine published a new study revealing that while Americans as a whole are eating healthier, low-income individuals are not. Access to quality nutrition is now one of the most important and detrimental dividing lines between rich and poor—and that inequality is making it harder for low-income people to stay healthy, which in turn drives up healthcare expenses for everyone.
At DC Central Kitchen, we’re taking this challenge head on with our pioneering Healthy Corners program. Since 2011, we’ve helped corner stores in struggling neighborhoods stock and sell fresh produce and nutritious items by giving them free infrastructure (like refrigerators and shelving), marketing assistance and affordable deliveries of healthy food. With an average retail price of just $0.44, Healthy Corners products are good for both low-income consumers and small business owners.
To keep these prices low, we work with public agencies and philanthropic supporters to offset some of the costs of running Healthy Corners. Earlier this year, we received a grant from the DC Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) to expand our program from 32 to 62 stores. After a summer of intensive outreach, we met and exceeded that goal, and now 63 small businesses in under-served DC neighborhoods are selling fresh, healthy food that otherwise wouldn’t be on their shelves.
Other key partners in Healthy Corners’ success include the DC Department of Health, Aetna Foundation, Wallace Genetic Foundation, McGuinn Family Foundation, Prince Charitable Trusts, and Kaiser Permanente. Earlier in 2014, Healthy Corners won the Tavis Smiley-University of Maryland Social Innovation Challenge, a national competition seeking solutions to long-standing community challenges.
Thank you to all the partners, supporters, customers, and small business owners working together to make Healthy Corners a success!