Empty grocery shelves may be a hardship for those of us who were late stocking up on our milk, eggs and bread, but that’s a temporary inconvenience.  Power outages, while they might cause us a few chilly hours, aren’t likely to put us at real risk of hypothermia.  And losing internet and cable service might be a huge frustration, but they’re not going do us lasting harm.

For those without shelter, however, storms like the one we saw this weekend and the one we’ll see tonight pose a real threat.  Food, warm clothing and a place to stay become dire necessities.  And Washington’s charitable community steps up.

In weather like this, local soup kitchens and meal providers have to swing into overdrive to provide breakfast, lunch and dinner for DC’s homeless population.  Shelters stay open twenty-four hours a day.  All of that extra demand takes a toll on the services of groups like Food & Friends and the DC Central Kitchen.

We’ve received notices from both groups looking for extra help to make sure they can provide everything possible to those in need, and we’re printing them here in the hope that you’ll be able to help.


On Thursday, February 11th, Food & Friends needs 20 volunteers to deliver meals, especially those with 4-wheel-drive vehicles.  Those without cars would be very much appreciated in the kitchen, and it would be great if they could come between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m.  Volunteers may sign up to chenderson@foodandfriends.org.  This information is also available on our website at www.foodandfriends.org/winterstorm2010.  Without Food & Friends, our clients likely will not eat, so the help of the community is vital.  Meals may be picked up from Food & Friends (219 Riggs Road, NE/Washington, DC) between 10 a.m. and 12 am., we will provide detailed delivery directions, and routes should take no more than 3 hours.  For more information, prospective volunteers may call 202.841.5347.


Volunteer Alert!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I am writing to inform you that DC Central Kitchen will be OPEN for business on Tuesday through Friday regardless of any other closures that may be announced in the city.

If transportation does not prove dangerous for you, we hope to see you at the Kitchen so that you can help us make the meals. Here are directions to DCCK: http://www.dccentralkitchen.org/directions.php. We’re just a couple blocks from the Judiciary Square Metro (use the 4th Street exit).

Also, you are very welcome to bring friends, family members or roommates who are not signed up on our online system (all volunteers must be at least 12 years old). We’ve had a shortage of volunteers over the past few days because of the weather, so we have lots of extra prep work that we want to get to.

Carolyn Parham
202-234-0707  X 108
DC Central Kitchen
Volunteer Program Coordinator

If you work with any other volunteer or charitable organizations here in the Washington area and you’d like us to help get the word out about anything you’ve got going on, please feel free to contact us at capitalspice AT gmail DOT com.

PS7's Gina Chersevani with Alice Waters

If our math is correct, Alice Waters’ Sunday Night Suppers helped to raise more than $100,000 for the DC Central Kitchen and Martha’s Table for the second year in a row.  The 15 all-star dinner parties were limited to 20 guests each, and they featured some of Washington’s best and most established chefs.  But they weren’t the only way to help support these great causes this time around.

In an effort to engage the next generation of savvy and (hopefully) active foodies, Waters and company organized a pre-game called Sunday Night Sips.

Everything about this luxe cocktail reception was planned with a younger audience in mind, from the scaled-back price point to the collection of up-and-coming chefs whose dishes were featured to the high-end cocktails poured by three of DC’s finest craft bartenders.

We were invited to tag along and document the event, and we eagerly accepted.  What awaited us in hosts Greg Nelson and Jose Cunningham’s beautiful home was three floors of food and drink that were designed to impress.  Whether it was Will Artley’s BLT Gnocchi (a favorite we’ve ordered at Evening Star Cafe) or Owen Thompson’s Tequila Milk Punch, each taste packed a flavorful punch.

The evening in images (Who am I kidding? There are plenty of words, too) after the jump. (more…)

On the eve of President Obama’s inauguration last year, top chefs, writers and artists from all over America descended on Washington to put on Art. Food. Hope. They served up a dozen amazing meals, inspired numerous conversations about what the new administration could do to show its commitment to sustainable agriculture, healthy food culture, and solutions to hunger.  Needless to say, the dinners were completely sold out, and they raised more than $100,000 for local charities like Martha’s Table and the DC Central Kitchen.  As luck would have it, we here at Capital Spice were even lucky enough to be at the Dupont Circle FreshFarm Market that Sunday morning when Alice Waters and several other participating chefs stopped by to pick up some ingredients.

Ris Lacoste, Barton Seaver and Alice Waters with representatives from FreshFarm Markets, Martha's Table and DC Central Kitchen

They figured it worked so well last time, why not try it again this year?  In the same spirit as last year’s event, Jose Andres, Alice Waters and more than two dozen local and national chefs will be working to put on 15 dinners on Sunday, January 24th.  To make it even more interesting, this year they’ve added a “Sunday Night Sips” cocktail reception to precede the “Sunday Night Suppers.”

With seating at each dinner limited to 20 guests, intimate doesn’t even begin to describe this.  These are basically command performances by most of Washington’s most celebrated chefs, with a handful of imports from as far away as San Francisco thrown in for good measure.  Four courses and conversation, with the goal of continuing all of the positive impact that came out of last year.

Have dinner plans for Sunday, the 24th yet?  Check out the list of participating chefs after the jump and get some more information on how you can get involved. (more…)

We know, we know…we promised to announce the winner of our Top Chef DC Elimination Challenge this morning.  We were blown away by your response: more than 80 suggestions that touched on almost every aspect of Washington life.  Our word is good – we’ll announce the winner shortly.

Photo by Len Depas

But since we’ve got your attention, we wanted to take a minute to tell you about a terrific way for you to help out one of our favorite local charities.  BGR has teamed up with the DC Central Kitchen to put on a unique promotion for the month of December.  Throughout the month, BGR will donate one hamburger’s worth of their prime ground beef for every burger purchased in all three of their locations (Bethesda, Old Town and Dupont Circle).

DC Central Kitchen has been “Feeding the Soul of the City” for 20 years now, offering hot meals to the homeless and quite a bit more.  Their Fresh Start Catering and Capital Carts programs provide training, education and job opportunities in the culinary industry for individuals trying to turn their lives around.  And their relationships with local restaurants and farmers’ markets allow them to make use of over a ton of donated food every day.

What does this cost you?  Absolutely nothing.  Buy the same burger you normally would, and BGR will make the contribution.  You don’t need to mention a secret word or turn in some kind of coupon or even know you’re doing it…BGR will give for every burger sold, period.

Sure, the DC dining scene is positively overrun with burger joints.  Chances are there’s at least one or two other options between you and your nearest BGR.  And we’re not about to tell you which establishment should be your favorite (that’s an intensely personal decision that every person needs to make for himself or herself).  But how many of BGR’s competitors are stepping up with this kind of charitable giving?

If you’ve never tried Mark Bucher’s badass burgers, this is a perfect excuse to check them out for yourself.  We experienced BGR for the first time last month, and it’s a safe bet we’ll be back to check out some of their other burgers soon enough.  And – we can’t stress this enough – try it with the Orange Standard.  Those sweet potato fries were GREAT.

Have you been eating and drinking well this summer?  With the delicious produce at local farmers’ markets, exciting new offerings from favorite local chefs and DC’s frozen yogurt boom, it’s been hard not to.  What better time to think about ways to help organizations that fight hunger?

If Lifetime’s camera crew isn’t following you and your Mafia around this month, there’s a good chance you could be doing more in the way of charity.  Fortunately, it’s even easier to help than usual.

As we head into the harvest season, there are several opportunities to support local and national charities dedicated to combating hunger that require little effort beyond skipping a meal or choosing a participating restaurant.  You know you’re going to eat out anyway – why not pass some of your dining dollars on to a worthy cause?

Details on the Capital Area Food Bank’s “Skip Lunch, Feed a Bunch,” Share Our Strength’s “Great American Dine Out,” and the DC Central Kitchen’s “Eating Well/Doing Good” program after the jump.