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Dining Out For Life: Eat well so others might do the same

Dining Out For Life - September 18, 2014
Dining Out For Life - September 18, 2014
Courtesy of Moveable Feast

Here is what I want you to do, make reservations for Thursday, September 18th at any one of these restaurants, enjoy a great meal and these kind and generous restaurateurs will donate from 25% to 50% of the revenue to Moveable Feast. It has been 21 years since the inception of Dining Out for Life, a charity event that benefits over 60 service organizations nationally and here in Baltimore, Moveable Feast.

Moveable Feast, a non-profit which offers meal delivery programs to homebound people living with HIV/AIDS and breast cancer, transportation and in addition, a culinary training program.

Last year we interviewed Dining Out For Life celebrity spokesperson, Ted Allen. Here is a look back at that interview.

The Food Network’s James Beard Award winning host of Chopped Ted Allen has been a spokesperson for Dining Out for Life for the past six years. Ted Allen shared time to chat with Examiner.com about his commitment to Dining Out for Life, how Queer Eye for the Straight Guy evolved, Top Chef, Iron Chef America and more.

Examiner: When you look back at your early days as a journalist in Chicago what were your aspirations? Any dreams of what the future would hold for you?

Ted Allen: I had no aspirations of television. The contract to write for Esquire Magazine was my dream comes true. I wanted to write for a quality magazine; stylish, experimental and one with flair. I had to hustle for the Esquire job, they weren’t found on Craigslist.

E: Thank you for doing your part as Dining Out for Life’s spokesperson for the past six years. In fact, it is DOFL’s 20th anniversary this year. What have been the accomplishments and what do we still need to do?

TA: Over 4 million dollars has been raised annually for DOFL in 50 cities for local AIDS service charities. The money raised in each city stays in that city.

HIV/AIDS has promising therapies and is no longer the automatic death sentence. It initially hit the gay community first but with precautions the incidents of the disease in gays were down. The disease then seemed to spread to women of color and now with young gay men the numbers are increasing. The fight continues.

The real heroes are the activist, health care workers, volunteers. Dining Out for Life is a simple opportunity that by dining out on a specific day at designated restaurants, patrons are making a meaningful contribution. Restaurateurs donate a portion of the proceeds of that evening (and/or lunch) to DOFL. Everyone wins; the restaurateurs fill their seats with new patrons.

E: How did Queer Eye for the Straight Guy come about? It was pretty brave even for 2003 to ‘come out’ nationally. It wasn’t that long before that Ellen DeGeneres’s career suffered a blow when she came ‘out’ in 1997.

TA: No one took it more seriously being ‘out’ on television. Many didn’t like having it shoved in their faces. It opened a door for the LGBT community. It allowed me to come out to many but a few relatives learned when the show aired.

Since 1933 Esquire Magazine has set the standard for men to be modern world travelers, how to dress, where to dine – numerous service articles, an orientation to being a well rounded male. The folks from Queer Eye were huge fans of Esquire Magazine; it was almost a template for the show.

E: How did being a judge on Top Chef and Iron Chef America prepare you for hosting Chopped?

TA: When Queer Eye for the Straight Guy was at its peak (Emmy Award winner), I was on two television networks, Bravo and The Food Network. That was pretty unheard of at that time. It was important to talk about food in a way anyone could understand. Both Iron Chef America and Top Chef refined that talent, improved my skills to communicate on how food tastes.

It was Alton Brown and Tom Colicchio who influenced me to focus on the food and not who cooked it. They are both scrupulously fair in their judging.

Don’t forget; make your reservations and Dine Out For Life, Thursday, September 18. If you can’t do that, do think about a donation at Moveable Feasts.