The Scene: Week of July 7


Alphonso Williams Anthony and Austin Witt work on their dish, which won the creative category. (Courtesy of D.C. Central Kitchen/Courtesy of D.C. Central Kitchen)
July 6
Turnabout: Celebrity chef judges food

After winning the title on the Fox cooking competition show “Hell’s Kitchen,” chef Rock Harper is no stranger to having his dishes scrutinized by discerning judges. But on June 25, Harper got to see how things looked from the other side of the table when he served as a judge for a cooking competition held at Central Union Mission in the District.

The contest, held by D.C. Central Kitchen and Capital One Foundation, was a forum for students in the D.C. Central Kitchen’s culinary job training program to test their skills under pressure. The students, many of whom have been previously incarcerated or homeless, are learning the skills that will help them land restaurant jobs. Harper, along with former “Chopped” contestant Will Artley and “American Grilled” host David Gaus, named James Hawkins and Kelvin Johnson winners in the finale category for a dish that featured skillet chicken with parmesan potatoes and sauce.

— Sarah Halzack

Band battle: Rocking the (court)house

The 11th annual “Banding Together” Battle of the Law Firm Bands raised a record $303,469 in June.

The event is a fundraising effort by the Washington legal community to support Gifts for the Homeless, a District nonprofit that donates clothing to homeless shelters and transitional housing facilities. This year, 16 bands — all made up of attorneys and staffers from the region’s law firms — took the stage at the Black Cat in the District. The winning band is determined by who raises the most money from donations.


Gov. Martin O’Malley (center) signing a Drybar-related bill into law on May 5 with Employees from Drybar’s Maryland locations. (Dan Swartz/Dan Swartz)

The Unnamed Party — attorneys from Paul Hastings, Arent Fox and Hunton & Williams — took the top prize, raising $55,861.

Other acts included Sutherland Comfort (from Sutherland Asbill & Brennan), which came in second with $40,828, and Attractive Nuisance (from Steptoe & Johnson), which came in third with $24,647.

— Catherine Ho

Drybar: Salon salute

July 1 will never again be a bad hair day, according to Maryland Gov. Martin G. O’Malley, who dedicated the day to a chain of blow-dry salons.

O’Malley on Tuesday issued an official proclamation naming it “Buttercup Day” in honor of the yellow blow dryers at Drybar, a Los Angeles-based company that has two locations in the Washington area.

In early May, at Drybar’s urging, O’Malley signed into law a bill allowing beauty salons in Montgomery County to serve beer and wine to clients over the age of 21. The law went into effect July 1 — or rather, on Buttercup Day.

“This is a fantastic day for Drybar,” founder Alli Webb said in a statement.

— Abha Bhattarai

In Petworth: Safeway reopens in its old spot

Old is making way for new all around Washington these days, and the brand-new Safeway store in Petworth is no exception. The store, which opened its doors June 27, replaces the old Safeway that stood there for nearly 50 years. The old store shut down in 2012 while Safeway redeveloped the site, located at 3830 Georgia Ave. NW. The new store features a sushi bar and wine and cheese experts.

At a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Safeway played up its connections to the neighborhood. Veterans from the nearby Armed Forces Retirement Home attended the event, as well as retired Vice Adm. Manson Brown, who grew up near the store. Brown was the highest ranking African-American in the Coast Guard.

NBC4 news anchor Chris Lawrence played host to 150 guests, including Mayor Vincent Gray and the candidate who bested him in the primary, Muriel Bowser.

— Amrita Jayakumar

Philanthropy: Coming together for giving

African American millennial philanthropists recently gathered for the Changing the Face of Philanthropy summit, which was held at the United Way of the National Capital Area offices, to improve giving practices and develop strategies for community engagement.

In its second year, the event, which was organized by social impact company Friends of Ebonie, brought together a few dozen young black professionals between the ages of 25 and 40 to participate in workshops, panel discussions and trainings. The summit also held a mock-pitch competition where the attendees presented strategic ideas to solve specific community issues. The winning team created an app that allows people who use check-cashing practices to receive financial literacy information from selected banks. The team won a small cash prize.

“An event like this dispels the myth that young black professionals don’t exist in community leadership,” said Ebonie Johnson Cooper, founder of Friends of Ebonie. “When it comes to diversity and leadership I’ve heard that it’s hard to find us. The summit is necessary so people can see that we do want to learn and get better and civic leadership.”

The workshops ranged in topics from board leadership training to social innovation to mentoring to marketing and branding tips for nonprofits to the state of mentoring young black males in America, a conversation on the heels of the White House’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative.

Featured speakers included Rosie Allen-Herring, head of the local United Way; Damon Hewitt, senior adviser for Open Society Foundations; Mike Muse, co-founder of Muse Recordings; Decker Ngongang, senior associate with Echoing Green; Tony Lewis, community activist and founder of Sons of Life; Darius Graham, founder of DC Social Innovation Project; Stephen Powell, executive director of Mentoring USA; and Omar Woodard, former principal at Venture Philanthropy Partners.

Sponsors included Wells Fargo Advisors, Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, NOVA Young Professionals Network, Greater Washington Urban League, Young Nonprofit Professionals Network, BoardSource and BlackGivesBack.

— Vanessa Small

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