Leading up to the 2009 inaugural weekend, Alice Waters, chef and proprietor of Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, Calif., had a spontaneous vision to organize an event to create awareness about homelessness, poverty and hunger. Now in its fifth year, Waters’s vision continues to flourish.
Waters joined Jose Andres and Joan Nathan to host Sips and Suppers, an annual fundraiser in the District that has raised more than $675,000 to benefit DC Central Kitchen and Martha’s Table, nonprofit organizations that support the low-income population in the District.
Andres is a notable chef and the owner of D.C. restaurants including Minibar, Jaleo and Zaytinya.
Nathan opens her home for Suppers, and she spearheads the event planning by securing other venues and donors. According to Nathan and Anders Hyde, volunteer co-coordinator, organizing requires time and attention to detail, but it’s never a burden because of the collaborative spirit of volunteers willing to give their time.
“This event means a lot to me,” said Nathan, a cookbook writer and TV host. “To see what these organizations do and how they are changing lives makes every minute worth it.”
On Jan. 26, Sips, a cocktail reception, will feature chefs, artisans and mixologists offering samples of food and drink, and a live jazz band. The event will be from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Tickets are $95.
The next day, at 6 p.m., Suppers will be held in 28 private homes throughout the District. Hosts invite up to 20 guests from their personal networks and the general public for an intimate meal prepared by premier chefs from around the country. Tickets are $550. To commemorate the event’s fifth year, tickets for the dinners hosted by Waters and Andres are $1,000. Waters’s dinner is sold out. During the first year, there were 12 dinners. A portion of the ticket prices are tax deductible.
The event features more than 60 chefs, with 17 traveling from others states, including California, Louisiana, Massachusetts and New York, and others from France, Iceland and Italy. Other chefs include former contestants from the popular Bravo TV series “Top Chef.” Local and out-of-town chefs are paired up and assigned to a home to prepare dinner.
Approaching his fourth year as a participant, Scott Drewno, executive chef of the Source, is paired with Eric Bruner-Yang of Toki Underground. Together, they have created a menu inspired by the Chinese New Year. Drewno said he admires the passion and dedication of everyone involved in the events and enjoys working closely with iconic chefs he has long admired.
At each Supper, hosts and representatives of the organizations lead a discussion about the importance of food and its impact on health and the local economy.
For Brian MacNair, chief development officer of DC Central Kitchen, the highlight of Suppers is not only the elegant meals but also the “conversations about the issues.” MacNair says DC Central Kitchen and Martha’s Table work well together because of their outlook and approach to how they serve their clients. “With every meal, there is a message,” MacNair said.
Kim Lyons, assistant director of development at Martha’s Table, said their ability to work as a team “brings a unique strength to the event. ” Both organizations are committed to raising awareness about hunger and poverty, and finding solutions to curb them.
“It’s a marker of how much it takes a community to bring a community together,” Lyons said.
For information, visit www.sipsandsuppers.org.