The Washington Post

Chefs showcase their delicacies for child literacy

Whether giving to a homeless shelter or a school, Chef Rami Boubker, co-owner of Overwood Restaurant in Alexandria, says he finds it hard to say no to charity.

“I know how I grew up,” said the Moroccan native who began his career as a dishwasher 23 years ago. “I’ve been there. I’ve struggled.”

That’s also why he and his team were among 60 chefs showcasing their recipes to raise money for child literacy.

More than 800 foodies and supporters filled the halls of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Southwest Washington, sampling everything from baby back ribs to ice cream sandwiches to chocolate delicacies.

Chocolate was indeed the theme of the 10th annual Sweet Charity event, organized by the Heart of America Foundation, a child literacy nonprofit, and Albert Uster, a gourmet foods importer. The most anticipated part of the night was the fashion show where models catwalked outfits accessorized with chocolate, designed by local chefs.

“Our [organization] has built such great relationships with these chefs,” said Angela Halamandaris, president of the Heart of America Foundation. “We have a compelling mission and we’ve been able to connect them with that by not only having them read to the kids but we make them feel appreciated. We really do highlight their talent.”

Through ticket sales, sponsorships, pledges, donations and silent and live auctions, the organization raised $100,000 to support its distribution of books to local children living in poverty.

The hand-crafted display of a popular children’s book sat next to Chef Daniel Wecker of the Elkridge Furnace Inn as he handed out turkey, brie and apple on a brioche bun to the throng of foodies at his booth.

“My family and I are avid readers,” he said, just moments before receiving the Chef of the Year award. Losing four children to a rare genetic disease, he said, spurred him to become an avid contributor to medical causes. He has raised $500,000 for charity in the 24 years of his company’s existence.

Other restaurants that participated included the Fourth Estate, Brabo, Co Co. Sala, Bobby Van’s Grill, Chef Geoff’s, Good Stuff Eatery, Kushi, Farrah Olivia, 2941 and RIS.

Guests included D.C. Public Schools Interim Chancellor Kaya Henderson; Nicholas Lodge, creator of Princess Diana’s wedding cake; former Redskins players Ken Harvey and Chris Samuels; and Leon Harris of ABC7.

Vanessa Small covers philanthropy and nonprofits for Capital Business. She also spotlights newly appointed executives in the New at the Top column, which chronicles their journeys to the top. Small was raised in Orange County, Ca. and graduated from Howard University.



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